Definition of hawthorn in US English:



  • A thorny shrub or tree of the rose family, with white, pink, or red blossoms and small dark red fruits (haws). Native to north temperate regions, it is commonly used for hedges.

    Genus Crataegus, family Rosaceae: many species, in particular the European common hawthorn (C. monogyna)

    Also called may, quickthorn, whitethorn
    • ‘Along the trail, visitors can enjoy specimens such as the Indian horse chestnut, dawn redwood, autumn oaks and oriental hawthorns.’
    • ‘This medicinal herb comes from the leaves and fruit of the hawthorn tree, found throughout Europe.’
    • ‘Hardy fuchsias also make attractive hedges either as a single species or mixed with other hedging plants, such as hawthorn and beech.’
    • ‘The most magnificent sight I've seen recently was a hawthorn tree that was a mass of bright red fruits.’
    • ‘At the riverside, hawthorns, oaks, beeches and other trees stand stark and bare.’
    • ‘Pansies signify thoughtfulness, while hawthorns denote a hopeful spirit.’
    • ‘The numerous literary references to the hawthorn or May tree attest its many associations.’
    • ‘The creamy white hawthorn blossom puts on a spectacular show.’
    • ‘Some hawthorns are especially prone to leaf fungal problems, and highly infected plants may become sparse.’
    • ‘Plant berry-bearing plants in your garden, such as hawthorn, rowan, holly, cotoneaster and berberis.’
    • ‘Clinical studies show that the leaves, flowers and fruit of the hawthorn tree contain substances which act as antioxidants.’
    • ‘Shrubs such as hawthorn, field maple, blackthorn, beech, hornbeam and holly make good hedging.’
    • ‘He was leading me down a path lined with white daisies and freshly-bloomed hawthorn trees.’
    • ‘The course is aimed at beginners, and will help them spot the difference between the hazel and the hawthorn, and the beech from a birch.’
    • ‘In the distance you can see a number of rambling, overgrown hawthorns with a tree growing through them.’
    • ‘The arrival of spring is associated with the flowers of the hawthorn, the return of the swifts and, of course, the violet-blue carpets of bluebells.’
    • ‘The wood of the hawthorn is one of our finest hardwoods, and mantelpieces and furniture made from it are very beautiful and durable.’
    • ‘The reserve is comprised of two hay meadows enclosed by tall hedges of hazel, hawthorn, Guelder rose and dogwood.’
    • ‘The path is lined by hedgerows of hawthorn and ivy and trees form a natural canopy.’
    • ‘There are silver birch trees, hawthorn, field maple and guelder rose at the woodland edge.’


Old English hagathorn, probably meaning literally ‘hedge thorn’ (see haw, thorn); related to Dutch haagdoorn, German Hagedorn.