The Crataegus crus-galli is a member of the hawthorn family and the species name is derived from the Latin word for the spur on a cockerel’s foot which the thorns resemble. The tree is native to eastern North America, but will grow happily in our South African climate.
This small, deciduous tree grows to a height of 6 – 10 m and has a spread of approximately 10 m. When young, the crown has a rounded shape, maturing to a flat topped, spreading canopy. The foliage is green during summer, but adds colour to your garden during autumn, when the leaves turn shades of orange and red, before dropping to the ground.
Although the Cockspur hawthorn is a member of the rose family, the sprays of white flowers, which bloom during spring, does not smell as good. However, it does attract insects and thus birds to the garden. Birds also nest in this tree as it has long thorns which offer protection. Orangey-red fruit are produced during late summer and autumn, providing an additional food source for our feathered friends.
Hardy and tolerant of atmospheric pollution, the Crataegus crus-galli can withstand some frost and drought conditions, growing in a variety of soils. This flowering tree can be used as a hedging, barrier or screening plant.