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Crataegus x lavallei Herincq

Common name(s): Lavalle hawthorn
Family: Rosaceae
Type: Woody plant
Size: 15-30' high
Habit: Oval to rounded
Texture: Medium
Hardiness: Zone 4b USDA
Parentage: Crateagus crusgalli x Crataegus stipulacea
Flower
Introduction:

Quick! Name a small tree with good branching, clean foliage, and attractiveness throughout all four seasons!

If you guessed Crataegus x lavallei, you probably cheated by looking at the name on the top of this page. But you also got a right answer.

When I think of hawthorns, a dense tangle of impassable briars and the sweeping horizontal branches that embody the prairie landscape comes to mind.

This stately hawthorn is neither of these, growing more upright than wide, limbs twisting upwards with exfoliating bark and patches of green on the stems. Thorns are few and far between as well, but when you find one, OUCH! They're very stout, unlike the long, slender thorns found on cockspur hawthorns.

In late spring its masses of white, 3" blooms are a pleasure to behold, despite their bad odor. Summer displays brilliant red fruit against a backdrop of glossy, dark green foliage. Fall is a marvel of crimson and bronze coloration, and winter is made a little more tolerable by the persisting fruit, stately architecture, and exfoliating bark.

We have the French to thank for discovering this plant, as it originated in the Segrez Arboretum around 1880 in France. 3 years later, Vauvel announced in the Revenue Horticole that a new species derived from a cross between C. stipulaceae and C. crusgalli was available, given the name C. carrieri. The two species could only be discerned by the color of their anthers C. carrierei had pink-toned anthers, while C. x lavallei had yellow ones. It was decided that C. x lavallei was the original species, and C. carrierei was discarded as a species and became known as Crataegus x lavallei 'Carrierei'.

Foliage:

Leaves The alternate, 2-4" simple leaves are elliptic to obovate with serrations along the margins of the top half of the leaf. The pubescent undersides are offset by their glossy, dark green surfaces. The leaf apex is acuminate (moreso than Crataegus crusgalli), with the leaf base cuneate and supported by a 1/4" to 3/4" long petiole.

Flowers:

The 3/4" diameter flowers are borne in 3" diameter corymbs, appearing in late May to early June. Each flower contains 15-20 stamens with yellow anthers, surrounded by 5 white petals. Like all hawthorns, they are extremely malodorous (they remind me of urine).

Fruit:

The 3/4" brick-red or orange-red pome-like drupes are speckled with brown dots, appearing in summer and persisting through the winter. Each fruit contains 2 to 3 nutlets. Fruit

Fall Color:

Fall Color In autumn, fall color on this hawthorn is good, ranging from bronze to a bright, even red.

Bark

The bark on Crataegus x lavallei is an interesting combination of brown and gray, often exfoliating slightly on older wood to expose an orange-red to rust-colored underbark. Bark

Pathology:

Lavalle hawthorns tend to be relatively free of the problems that plague other members of its genus. Rust, scab, and fireblight are virtually unknown to it, and as a result the foliage stays green and lustrous all summer long.

Unfortunately, it is not immune to all forms of attack. Leaf spots, powdery mildew, aphids, tent caterpillars, lace bugs, and mites can all become problematic if the plant is weak or poorly sited.

Propagation:

It is unclear whether or not the seeds need to be scarified in acid for 2-3 hours if the endocarp seems excessively tough, this practice is recommended. Seeds should then undergo warm stratification (77°F) for 120 days, followed by 135 days at 41°F.

Comments:

This is one of my favorite hawthorns overall it comes second only to Crataegus viridis 'Winter King' for seasonal attractiveness, but is so much more resistant to rust.

Suggested uses:

This is an excellent specimen tree, ideal for softening architectural lines and drawing one's eye away from a building. Indeed, the tree itself is almost a piece of art, reminding one of an Italian countryside with its greenish bark, glossy foliage, and showy flowers. It almost seems too lush of a plant for our region.

Care should be taken to keep this plant away from open windows or walkways, as the open flowers are extremely malodorous and remind one of urine. Aside from the unpleasantness of the odor, the tree is quite showy and may be better viewed from afar.

Medicinal uses:

The plant has no significant medicinal uses.

References:

  • Dirr, Michael. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. Champaign: Stipes Publishing, 1990.
  • Johnson, Warren T. and Howard H. Lyon. Insects That Feed on Trees and Shrubs. Ithica: Cornell University, 1994.
  • Krussmann, Gerd. Manual of Cultivated Broad-Leaved Trees & Shrubs, vol. I. Beaverton: Timber Press, 1976.
  • Morton Arboretum. Woody Plants of the Morton Arboretum. Lisle: Morton Arboretum, 1984.
  • Rehder, Alfred. Manual of Cultivated Trees and Shrubs. New York: MacMillan Publishing.
  • Sinclair, Wayne A. et al. Diseases of Trees and Shrubs. Ithica: Cornell University, 1993.
  • Walters, Dirk R. and David J. Keil. Vascular Plant Taxonomy, Third Edition. Dubuque: Kendall / Hunt, 1977.
  • Wyman, Donald. Wyman's Gardening Encyclopedia. New York: MacMillan, 1986.
  • Special thanks to Dr. Gary J. Kling of University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, for use of his fall color photograph.



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