Crataegus x lavallei Herincq
Oval to rounded
Zone 4b USDA
Crateagus crusgalli x Crataegus stipulacea
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'.
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.
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).
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.
In autumn, fall color on this hawthorn is good,
ranging from bronze to a bright, even red.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
The plant has no significant medicinal uses.
- 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
- Sinclair, Wayne A. et al. Diseases of
Trees and Shrubs. Ithica: Cornell University,
- 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.