Crataegus viridis 'Winter King' L.
Winter King Green hawthorn
20-35' high, equal width
Zone 5a USDA
Maryland . Illinois . Iowa . Texas . Florida
As the winter months approach for many of us, we often look
for that last spot of color to brighten our days and yards.
Something with interesting bark, persisting fruit, or
beautiful branching and stem coloration.
We don't have to look any further. The aptly named Winter
King hawthorn truly looks regal in its frosty home,
bedecked with brilliant red fruit upon its silvery frame.
Its summer months can be equally effective when clusters
of white flowers form against the lustrous green leaves.
And as if all of these features weren't enough, the tree
goes one step further to prove its excellence by turning
gold with traces of red and purple in autumn. When the
leaves fall, the beautiful exfoliating bark is exposed.
The beige-gray outer layer on larger branches and the trunk
peel or flake off to expose a warm copper-cinnamon
beneath. Younger branches tend to be more silvery-green
(hence then name viridis, which means green), but
provide an equally startling contrast.
Unlike most other hawthorns, it remains relatively free of pests
and diseases such as scab and rust. This cultivar of
Crataegus viridis is also noted for its enormous fruit,
consistently growing larger than those of the regular
It does retain some of the better qualities of its genus,
however it will
tolerate most soil types and city pollution.
For winter interest, this is a plant that's hard to beat.
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Ranging from 3/4" to 2 1/4" long, the glossy green
leaves have toothed edges and tend to be elliptical
to oval in shape. The clean and disease-free foliage
ranges from medium green to dark green.
3/4" to 2 1/4" long, oblong-ovate to elliptic, acute
or acuminate apex and cuneate base. Serrate margins,
dark green and lustrous above with pale underside.
Opening in mid-May, the 2" clusters of white 3/4" blossoms
show up nicely against the glossy green foliage. Like
most members of the family Rosaceae, each individual
flower has five petals, and like most hawthorns, they
tend to be somewhat malodorous.
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3/4", glabrous, slender pedicels, sepals lanceolate and
entire. Stamens 20, pale yellow anthers, 2 to 5 styles,
borne in 2" diameter corymbs.
1/4 to 1/2" in diameter, the brilliant red fruit start
forming in late September or early October. They cover
the tree quite nicely, persisting through the winter
Drupe, 1/4 to 1/2" wide, subglobose or short-ellipsoid, red
with yellow mealy flesh, 2-5 nutlets.
Although not one of the primary ornamental features of
this hybrid, leaf coloration is still quite nice in
the fall. Changing from its lustrous green to
a golden yellow, the foliage picks up traces of red,
purple, and maroon.
The outer bark of this hawthorn is beige-gray, but
exfoliates off in sheets or patches to expose a
warm cinnamon underbark. This characteristic
will form on branches as they mature.
Younger branches are silver-green in color, sparsely
bearing 1" thorns.
This hawthorn is not plagued with most of the problems
common to other members of its genus. Despite its
high resistance to rust on the foliage, the fruit
may still become infected with the unsightly disease.
Leaf miners, caterpillars, borers, and aphids can
also attack a tree, but if well-situated and stress-free
there should be no noticeable effects.
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. However, this may not
produce true-to-type stock, so budding onto seedling
understock is the most common method of propagation.
This beautiful tree is the ideal plant for those wanting
year-round interest in their garden. Its small size
lends itself to even the smallest gardens, and its
tolerance in adverse conditions is admirable. Soils can
be of any type, although Winter King hawthorns are
happiest in loam. City conditions don't seem to
affect it either, but it does require full sun.
Short stature makes this a good selection for tight spaces.
Use as a hedge, single specimen, screen, or mass planting
are all excellent possibilities. It is usually best without
a backdrop, but if one is necessary, light colors are
superior or else the foliage becomes lost in the background.
If only planted for winter interest, plantings in front
of dark evergreens such as yews or hemlocks will stand
This species has no significant medicinal uses.
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Plants. Champaign: Stipes Publishing, 1990.
- Elias, T. S. The Complete Trees of North
America, Field Guide and Natural History. New
York: Gramercy, 1987.
- 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.
- Peattie, D. C. A Natural History of Trees
of Eastern and Central North America. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 1991.
- Poor, Janet Meakin and Nancy Peterson Brewster.
Plants That Merit Attention, Vol. I: Trees.
Portland: Timber Press, 1984.
- Rehder, Alfred. Manual of Cultivated
Trees and Shrubs. New York: MacMillan
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Trees and Shrubs. Ithica: Cornell University,
- Wyman, Donald. Wyman's Gardening
Encyclopedia. New York: MacMillan, 1986.