Northern Ontario Plant Database
Crataegus chrysocarpa Ashe
En: fireberry hawthorn, roundleaf hawthorn, red haw
Rosaceae (Rose Family)
General: A deciduous many-branched thorny shrub, to 6 m tall.
Stems/twigs: Winter twigs are reddish-brown to dark brown, smooth (glabrous), and bear long stout thorns, 2—8 cm long. The thorns may be straight or slightly curved and often bear small buds at the base or along the thorn. Buds are alternate, scaly, dark red, rounded, and shiny. Older twigs have grayish bark and bear short lateral shoots that develop into terminal flower clusters. Branches and main stems have smooth grayish-brown bark.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, and pinnately veined. Petioles are slightly hairy to glabrous and often bear a few small glands near the base of the leaf blade. Leaf blades are elliptic, broadly elliptic, or nearly orbicular, 2—9 cm long and 2—7 cm wide, with 3—4 pairs of shallow triangular lobes in the upper 1/2 or 2/3 of the blade; the secondary veins terminate in the tips of the lobes. Leaves are yellowish-green to dark green, slightly hairy above when young, glabrous at maturity; the lower surface is somewhat paler. Leaf bases are tapering (cuneate), truncate, or slightly rounded; margins are sharply toothed (serrate) nearly to the base.
Flowers: Several showy white flowers are arranged in rounded inflorescences (corymbs); subtended by a few narrow deciduous floral bracts; individual flower stalks (pedicels) are somewhat hairy. Flowers are 10—15 mm across, have an open hypanthium ending in 5 narrow calyx lobes with glandular serrate margins, 5 rounded white petals, 10 stamens with white to pale yellow anthers, and a pistil with a half-inferior ovary and 3—4 styles. Flowers bloom after leaves are fully expanded.
Fruit: Clusters of opaque red accessory fruit (pomes), each 8—10 mm in diameter. Young fruit are green and slightly hairy, but become glabrous and turn reddish-orange to red when ripe; the end of each fruit bears the persistent reflexed calyx lobes. Plants with fruit that remain yellow-orange at maturity are rare. Each fruit contains 3—4 one-seeded nutlets. The pomes are edible and used to make hawberry jelly.
Habitat & Range: In thickets and along forest edges, often growing in rocky ground, especially along streams. Fireberry hawthorn occurs throughout much of temperate North America and includes several varieties. In Ontario, Crataegus chrysocarpa has 3 varieties; the typical var. chrysocarpa has the broadest Canadian range, extending from Newfoundland west to British Columbia, while var. faxonii (Sarg.) Eggl. and var. phoenicea E.J.Palmer ex J.B.Phipps both occur in southern Ontario and Quebec. Fireberry hawthorn (var. chrysocarpa) occurs throughout the Algoma District, extends north into the Moose River watershed and west along the southern border of northwestern Ontario; it also occurs throughout southern and eastern Ontario.
Similar Species: Black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii), also occurs in the Algoma District; it has much shorter spines, 1—2.5 cm long, flowers with 7—10 pink-anthered stamens, and dark reddish-purple to black fruit. The flowers and inflorescences of hawthorns are similar to those of ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) and pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica), neither of which have thorns. Ninebark has palmately-lobed leaves with rounded lobes and dry brownish fruit, while pin cherry has narrow lanceolate leaves and small translucent red drupes (cherries) with a single large pit.Back to species list