Friday, March 13, 2020
Downy Hawthorn - Crataegus mollis
The Downy Hawthorn - Crataegus mollis - is a relatively small tree or large shrub that reaches 25-35 feet at maturity. It generally grows in a single trunk but can also grow in a multi trunk or shrub form. Because of the dense branching structure and thorns, Downy Hawthorn and other hawthorns provide great nesting habitat for the Yellow-Breasted Chat, Brown Thrasher, and other small birds. They also provide excellent protective covering for birds and other wildlife during the summer. The pollen & nectar attracts various bees, flies and beetles. Other insects such as caterpillars and moths feed on the foliage, flowers and wood of the Downy Hawthorn.
The trunk bark is roughly textured, shallowly furrowed and a grey-brown in color. The branch bark is smoother, and slightly lighter in color. Young branches are non-woody and green. The root system is woody and branching in habit, and it spreads by reseeding itself. The leaves are simple, oval in shape and shallowly clefted with 3-5 lobes along the edges. The leaves are generally bluntly pointed rather then rounded. The margins are serrated or double serrated and the leaf bases are slightly cordate to truncate. Upper leaf surfaces are medium to yellow green in color while the lowers are pale green and pubescent.
White flowers are produced on short spur twigs, they are 1-3 inches across and generally flat headed. The blooming period is short lasting only about two weeks during the late Spring. The flowers have a foul often pungent odor. Fertile flowers are replaced by small apple-like fruits that become ¾-1" across at maturity during late summer. Young fruits are light green and pubescent, while mature fruit are yellowish red to scarlet and hairless. The fruits each have 4-5 chunky seeds.
Photo Citations (Photos - 1, 2 & 3) Richard Webb, Bugwood.org