Chinese hawthorn, known as shānzhā, or Crataegus pinnatifida, is a small, deciduous tree from northern China. This 15 to 20 foot tree with a 10 to 15 foot spread has great charm, and yet, it is hardly known.

In early spring this upright, open, twiggy tree is smothered in dense clusters of white flowers. Then the attractive foliage emerges with glossy, dark-green leaves deeply incised with 9 lobes, complex and beautiful. These leaves turn brilliant shades of red and gold in autumn at about the same time the fruits are coloring, large clusters of bright red that remain after the leaves have fallen. The fruit are as large as Crabapples, and best of all, they're tart and tasty right off the tree and delicious for jelly making.

This tree has few pests or diseases and is adaptable to most soil types and conditions, though full sun is a good idea. It succeeds well in Australia, most of the US, New Zealand and the UK.

As usual, this special tree will not be found in the popular landscape nurseries but more likely in a specialty, mail-order, plant nursery.

Chinese hawthorn


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