Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Green Hawthorn - Crataegus viridis   L.
Members of Rosaceae:
Members of Crataegus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Rosaceae
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DistributionFound in most of the Coastal Plain, except for the Tidewater region and the Sandhills, where scarce in both regions. Ranges west to the central Piedmont, and also present sparingly in the southern Mountains. Likely absent in the northern and central Mountains and most foothill counties.

Ranges from VA and southeastern KS south to northern FL and central TX. However, very rare in the Appalachian Mountains.
AbundanceCommon, at least locally, in the western and central Coastal Plain counties, but practically absent in the Sandhills region. Rare in the far eastern counties. Uncommon in the northeastern Piedmont, but generally very rare elsewhere in the Piedmont and southern Mountains (if correctly identified there).
HabitatThis species is one of the numerous hawthorn species of bottomlands, swamps, and other floodplain habitats. Only rarely does it occur into adjacent uplands, and then only in high pH soil. It does not occur in acidic soils of Sandhills streamsides and floodplains.
PhenologyBlooms from late March to late April, and fruits from September to November, and often lingering into winter.
IdentificationThis is one of the largest and tallest hawthorns, being a small tree growing to 20-30 feet tall. The leaves are elliptic to somewhat ovate, generally a bit broader below the middle, and are strongly serrated on the outer half of the leaves. Some leaves may have lobes, especially on young branches. The leaf shape is quite variable on a given tree, as well as from tree to tree; biologists will not be able to rule out other species by leaf characters. However, the bark of larger or older trees is quite “beautiful”, with a patchwork of reddish-brown, light gray, and dark gray blotches caused by peeling of different layers of bark. The fruits are orange-red and may linger on the trees until late winter or early spring, if not already eaten by birds. This is not a difficult species to find in many of the wider and better vegetated floodplain forests in the Coastal Plain, away from the Sandhills and the far eastern counties. It is not limited to river or creek banks or overly high pH soils in such sites, but it seems to “avoid” the Sandhills, and thus does not fare well in strongly acidic soils.
Taxonomic CommentsSome recent references show many varieties for this species, and Lance (2014) indicates that, in addition to the widespread nominate variety, var. lanceolata also is present in NC. Weakley (2018) does not list varieties for the species.

Other Common Name(s)Southern Thorn
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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