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1767 – What are the Differences Between Russian, Thornless Cockspur and Washington Hawthorns?   arrow

Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn ( Crataegus crusgalli inermis), Russian Hawthorn (Crataegus ambigua), and Washington Hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum) are all planted in Front Range landscapes. All are considered small trees to about 20-25 feet at maturity, although Washington Hawthorn is sometimes grown as a large, multi-stemmed shrub. All have reddish buds in the dormant season. All have alternate leaves and attractive white flowers in late spring/early summer. Following are some differences:

Leaf shape

  • Thornless Cockspur HawthornThornless Cockspur Hawthorn – leathery, serrated, unlobed, spoon-shaped, borne on short petioles
  • Russian Hawthorn – 5-7 deep lobes, triangular overall shape, on long petioles
  • Washington Hawthorn – 3-5 shallow lobes, triangular overall shape, on long petioles

Leaf color

  • Thornless Washington HawthornCockspur Hawthorn – glossy dark green to yellow, bronze and purplish in fall
  • Russian Hawthorn – medium green to yellow, bronze and purplish in fall
  • Washington Hawthorn – dark green to orange-red-purple in fall


  • Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn – May-late May, malodorous
  • Russian Hawthorn – late May-June
  • Washington Hawthorn – June


  • Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn – dull red-purple, 1/8”, persisting into fall/winter
  • Russian Hawthorn – attractive dark red-purple, 1/2”, persisting into late fall
russian hawthorn fruit
  • Washington Hawthorn – attractive glossy red-orange, ¼”, persisting into winter


  • Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn – none
  • Russian Hawthorn – sparse, shorter (3/8”)
Washington Hawthorn fruit
  • Washington Hawthorn – numerous, longer (1.5-2”)

Hawthorn mealybug occurrence

  • Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn – very prone
  • Russian Hawthorn – less prone
  • Washington Hawthorn – rarely infested

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