Hawthorn Berries In Winter – Information may be out of date The information on this page was originally published on December 19, 2007. It may not be out of date, but please check our site for more current information. If you plan to cite or refer to this information in a publication, please consult with an expert or author before proceeding.
Sometimes we take native plants for granted and forget the exceptional qualities they bring to the landscape. One example is parsley hawthorn.
Hawthorn Berries In Winter
My office is located at Hinds Community College, and the campus here is a virtual arboretum. Every tree and bush looks like it was part of the plan, and the winter color of the berry-producing plants was definitely in the design.
Are Hawthorn Berries Edible?
I have been admiring parsley hawthorns for over 12 years on campus. Botanically speaking, they are Crataegus marshallii, at least according to most USDA links and websites. To keep us on our toes, it probably changed to Crataegus apifolia.
The name tells you that the leaves look like parsley – not the curly kind, but the regular version. In spring, this member of the rose family is showered with a blanket of snow-white flowers with long, delicate-looking stamens tipped with pink anthers.
Let me just say that they are very pretty, and this is just in spring. I challenge you to find a small tree with more red berries throughout the fall and winter than the parsley hawthorn. They bear thousands and the tree can be seen from a great distance when the sun shows their brilliant color.
Birds eat the fruit, but I also noticed that each tree has a branchy top growth that is perfect for birds looking to nest. It’s kind of like shopping for birds in one place – home and grocery store.
Winter Berries Provide A Critical Food Source To Wildlife
Parsley hawthorn is native from Texas to Florida and as far north as Illinois, Kentucky, and Virginia, with most references indicating it is hardy in zones 4 or 5 through 9.
The trees have a nice structure, usually with two or three trunks that branch into several scaffolds. Older trees have an interesting peeling bark. They can get up to 25 feet tall and 25 feet wide, but most I see are 15 feet tall and not that wide.
It occurs in a variety of soils, from acidic to slightly alkaline, and from well-drained to those that are slightly on the boggy side. If you can find them at a nursery that specializes in natives, choose a planting location with part sun or morning sun and afternoon shade and fertile, well-drained soil. This will give you a photo-worthy specimen.
Also know that their water needs, once established, are considered moderately low. That’s nice given the sparse rainfall we get each year.
Berry Poppins Winterberry
While they can certainly stand alone, a spot with a backdrop of evergreens makes for an even better show. It’s probably one of those situations where opposites attract because the opposite of red is green.
Over the years I’ve told you about great plants from around the world. But this time, it’s the one we drive by all the time and take for granted. It’s about time we brought some of these natives back to our country and parsley hawthorn is definitely one to consider.