Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for May Hawthorn - Crataegus aestivalis   (Walter) Torrey & A. Gray
Members of Rosaceae:
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Rosaceae
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Author(Walter) Torrey & A. Gray
DistributionLimited to the southeastern quarter of the Coastal Plain, north to Wayne and Craven counties, where it reaches its northern edge of the range.

This species is limited to the southeastern part of the U.S. and is restricted to the Coastal Plain regions, from southeastern NC westward to MS and northern FL.
AbundanceOccasional to uncommon and easily overlooked or left unidentified, as are most hawthorns. This is an NC Watch List species.
HabitatIt occurs primarily in swamps, especially cypress-gum stands and forested pond/pool margins, but also in wetter bottomlands. It is usually found where some water stands for much of the year.
PhenologyFlowers from late March into April, and fruits from May to July – very early for a hawthorn.
IdentificationAs with all hawthorns, this is a deciduous species, generally a small tree or large shrub. This hawthorn’s main character is its narrowly cuneate leaf base, giving it a top-shaped look (obovate to oblanceolate), with or without lobes near the tip; most often there are no lobes. There are some large teeth near the tip. Thus, leaves can be quite variable, but usually they are somewhat narrow, about 3 times longer than wide. Narrowly cuneate leaves on a hawthorn growing in shallow water in a swamp may well be this species. All hawthorns have rather long thorns, medium-sized white flowers, and reddish fruit (pomes). However, this species has only a few flowers per inflorescence, occasionally even just one; the twigs can often be devoid of thorns. It is often cultivated, has fairly large pomes, to about 1/2-inch across. The fruit ripen earlier in the season (late spring or early summer) than do most other hawthorns. The species is probably best seen or surveyed from a boat/canoe on a blackwater creek or river, owing to it usually being found in shallow water and thus hard to access on foot.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Mayhaw, Eastern Mayhaw
State RankS2
Global RankG5
State StatusW1
US Status
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