Beautiful Hawthorn
Crataegus pulcherrima - Ashe
Rosaceae (Rose) Family

Plant is a shrub or small tree; much-branched with a spreading, rounded crown and showy white flowers. Height is usually no more than 20 feet with a trunk diameter of about four inches. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region in upland forests (rarely found directly at seashore), stream banks and in old fields and always at elevations less than 500 feet.

Leaves are about two inches long and almost as wide; broadly egg-shaped; widest at the middle or rounded; short pointed and narrows to a wedge-shaped base; finely saw-toothed. A distinguishing characteristic is that leaf side veins number four to six, each ending in a shallow lobe; shiny green above and paler beneath; turns orange or gold in autumn.

Flowers are small; snowy white with five petals typical of the Rose family with as many as 20 purplish stamens and three to five styles. The flowers appear in a compact cluster in early spring.

Fruit is a miniature apple that matures rose-colored in autumn.

The Latin description describes the flower as being "All things beautiful; white to the point of seeming anemic." Indeed, nothing about the tree would suggest it to be unhealthy. To the man at the US Forestry Service who first discovered and described it in such an eloquent term “pulcherrima” we can only say thanks for sharing with us in the Escambia Region this “Beautiful” hawthorn that’s not supposed to be here -- Mr. William Willard Ashe (1872-1932).

 Previous Page

Return to Index

Next Page