Cockspur Hawthorne Information:

The name “Hawthorn” comes from the fact that it grows on the Hawthorne family. There are many species of Hawthorns, but they all have one thing in common – thorns! Thorny plants like this one are called hawthorns because their leaves or branches grow out of them. They’re not poisonous, but they do cause pain if touched.

These plants are sometimes referred to as prickly pear cactus, since some people believe that they resemble the fruit of the plant. The term “hawthorn” was first used in 1821 when British botanist John Haworth described them. Since then, they’ve been known under several other names including Japanese hawthorn (Hedera helix), California hawthorne (Heliotropium californicum) and Virginia hawkweed (Helianthes virginiana).

Hawthorn trees are native to Europe and Asia. They were introduced into North America in the 1600’s, where they spread rapidly through the forests. Today, there are over 100 species of hawthorn in North America, with most found throughout the eastern United States and Canada. Some of these species are highly invasive pests that have become established in their new habitats; others are rare survivors that have adapted well to their new environments.

Besides the thorny leaves and branches, most species of hawthorn have white flowers and red fruits. The fruits of these plants are popular with birds and small mammals that eat their fleshy coverings and disperse the seeds in their droppings. Many types of birds, such as crows and thrushes, enjoy the fruits as well as the insects that are attracted to the sweet nectar secreted from the base of the flowers. The leaves and flowers can be used in herbal medicine.

Cockspur hawthorn belongs to the species known as C. Ventenata. It is native to southern Europe and northern Africa, but it has naturalized in parts of southern England as well as in coastal California. In its non-native habitat, it is a very invasive plant that takes over large areas of woodland by rapidly spreading its seeds and growing in thickets that are impossible to traverse.

It thrives in dry and rocky areas with well-draining soil.

This is a small tree that grows to between 8 and 15 feet, with brownish black thorny branches growing in a candelabra shape. The leaves are thin and elliptical shaped with each one having a long, pointed tip. Cockspur hawthorn has white, four-petaled flowers that bloom in the spring and are very attractive to bees and other insects. The fruits are red and each one is covered with a tough skin that has a single seed inside.

The fruits grow in drooping clusters and ripen in the fall.

This hawthorn grows well in something that resembles full sun or partial shade and can tolerate very dry conditions. You may want to consider planting it near walkways or other areas where you want to control the growth of weeds. It’s beneficial to wildlife and it’s very pretty, so you can’t go too wrong with this plant!

If you want to grow cockspur hawthorn for ornamental purposes, you can usually find it at garden stores or nurseries. It’s very easy to grow from seed as well; the seeds need to be kept moist until they sprout and can be planted outside in the spring. If you want to collect your own seeds, you will need to let the fruits ripen on the tree and then collect them once they’ve fallen off. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to use them.

Sources & references used in this article:

Predicting PAH bioaccumulation and toxicity in earthworms exposed to manufactured gas plant soils with solid-phase microextraction by …, JP Kreitinger, SB Hawthorne – … science & technology, 2007 – ACS Publications

The odd man out? Might climate explain the lower tree α‐diversity of African rain forests relative to Amazonian rain forests? by …, JL DOUCET, L Gautier, WD Hawthorne… – Journal of …, 2007 – Wiley Online Library

Abundance of apple maggot, Rhagoletis pomonella, across different areas in central Washington, with special reference to black-fruited hawthorns by WL Yee, MW Klaus, DH Cha, CE Linn… – Journal of Insect …, 2012 – academic.oup.com

Distribution and host plants of the apple maggot fly, Rhagoletis pomonella (Diptera: Tephritidae) in Texas by SH Berlocher, M Enquist – Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 1993 – JSTOR

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