Crataegus nitida

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: hawthorn 
Type: Tree
Family: Rosaceae
Native Range: Northern and eastern United States
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Other: Winter Interest, Thorns


Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates a wide range of soils as long as drainage is good. Tolerates light shade and some drought. Tolerates many urban pollutants.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Crataegus nitida, commonly called glossy hawthorn or shining hawthorn, is native to a small area of the Midwest consisting of southern Illinois south to western Tennessee and northeast Arkansas. In Missouri, it mostly occurs along streams and in open woods near the Mississippi River (Steyermark). It is a small, dense, broad-rounded tree to 20-30’ tall. It is also seen as a large multi-stemmed shrub. Branching is usually armed with thorns (to 2” long) with lower branching being horizontal and upper branching being more erect. Coarsely toothed, elliptic to oblong-ovate dark green leaves (to 3” long) have pointed tips and are sometimes lobed near the top. Leaves turn orange to red in fall. White flowers (in corymbs) bloom in May. Flowers emit an unpleasant fragrance. Flowers are followed by rounded fruits (3/8” diameter) that ripen to dull red in September-October and typically persist throughout winter to spring. Fruits are technically edible, but are usually best left for the birds. The fruit is sometimes called a haw.

Genus name comes from the Greek name for the tree. From kratos meaning strength for its strong, hard wood.

Specific epithet means shining in reference to the glossy leaves.


Pests and diseases are a problem with most hawthorns. Plants are susceptible to cedar hawthorn rust (rust stage where eastern red cedars are present in the area) and fireblight. Other potential diseases include fungal leaf spots, powdery mildew, cankers, apple scab, leaf blight and twig blight. Potential insect pests include aphids, borers, caterpillars, lacebugs, leafminers and scale. Red spider mites may also occur. Use of pesticide sprays may be advisable in areas where this plant suffers from significant diseases and insects. Thorns pose significant risks for young children, and also make culture/pruning more difficult.


Small flowering landscape tree for lawns or open woodland areas. Notwithstanding disease susceptibility, a well-maintained tree can be ornamentally attractive. Thorns are a drawback for pedestrian areas or areas with small children. Plants may be effective when grown as barrier plants on property borders or in hedgerows.