Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Dwarf Hawthorn - Crataegus munda   Beadle
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Members of Crataegus with account distribution info or public map:
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DistributionMainly the southwestern Coastal Plain and adjacent far eastern Piedmont; mostly found in the Sandhills region and immediately to the east. It ranges north to Franklin, Granville, and Durham counties. The map in Lance (2014) shows it ranging west to the southwestern Piedmont, and thus the specimen record for McDowell County might be correctly identified. As this taxon had been subsumed within C. flava for decades, only recently has it been elevated to a full species and thus its range in the state is not well known. It is unclear if it occurs in the central and western Piedmont, at least the southern portions.

This is a Southern species ranging north to central NC, northern GA, and northern AL, south to the FL Panhandle. South of NC it ranges far into the upper Piedmont of SC, GA, and AL.
AbundanceApparently uncommon in the Sandhills and immediately to the east toward Bladen County, and rare as far north as Durham, Granville, and Franklin counties. Though the NCNHP lists this as a Significantly Rare species, Weakley (2018) and Lance (2014) both indicate “uncommon” abundance and thus the species probably should be moved to the Watch List and given an S3? State Rank.
HabitatThis is a species of sandy areas, mainly in pine/scrub oak stands, but also in other dry brushy places. Apparently it is not characteristic of deep sands, however. It is often found in disturbed dry sites.
PhenologyBlooms from late March into April, and fruits in September and October.
IdentificationThis is possibly the smallest hawthorn species in the state, usually being a low to medium-sized shrub growing only to 3-5 feet tall. In fact, it may flower and fruit when only 1-2 feet tall. The leaves are cuneate to spatulate (wedge-shaped), with a rounded tip that is serrated, but the leaves are quite small, barely 1-1.5 inches long. The twigs are slender and often zigzag, and the inflorescence typically is few-flowered, normally with only 1-3 flowers. The thorns are often a bit shorter than on most hawthorn species, usually under 1 inch long. As the leaves are so small, the red fruit in the fall looks large and conspicuous in comparison with the leaves. Though in details of characters and genetics, this species is not closely related to the widespread and numerous C. uniflora, or to the less common C. crus-galli, to the average biologist C. munda might resemble those species at first glance, owing to the wedge-shaped/spatulate leaves. Dwarf Hawthorn is a “runt” of a shrub, and this may be the first clue to it being this species.
Taxonomic CommentsThough this species, as with most other NC Crataegus species, was first described around 1900, it languished within C. flava for most of the 20th Century (such as in RAB 1968). In recent years, C. flava has been split up into numerous species, of which one is C. munda.

Other Common Name(s)Batesburg Hawthorn
State RankS2? [S3?]
Global RankG4G5
State StatusSR-T ([W
US Status
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