The Washington hawthorn is a native tree that was once planted in New York City parks to attract birds. They grow to heights of 25 to 35 feet and live between 50 and 100 years. Like other hawthorns, their dense branches are armed with long sharp thorns.
The trees bloom in the late spring with attractive clusters of white flowers that resemble apple blossoms. Their spring leaves turn dark green in summer, then to a range of vibrant oranges, reds, and purples in the fall. Their scarlet berries persist through winter highlighting the surrounding landscape with red dots, until they are eaten up by birds.
Washington hawthorns reportedly got their name from the abundance of commercial nurseries that once sold the trees around Washington, D.C. Hawthorns have a long history in the United States and Europe. They were grown as sturdy hedgerows to divide properties, even the name of the Pilgrim’s ship the Mayflower, comes from the hawthorn.