The apple thorn is a hybrid of two different hawthorns. It has numerous flowers, which is because it belongs to the rose family. In addition, the apple-like fruits are a real eye-catcher in summer, autumn and even in winter, especially in older plants that have tons of them. The care is easy, the apple thorn is quite undemanding. You just have to be careful with the fire blight. For this reason, the tree may not be planted everywhere. You can find out what you need to know from us.


  • rose plant
  • pome fruit
  • Cross hybrid of Crataegus crusgalli and Crataegus mexicana (hawthorns)
  • Correct scientific name Crataegus lavallei
  • Originates from North America
  • Deciduous tree or shrub up to 7 m tall
  • Shoots with thorns, up to 5 cm long and very strong, but few
  • Thorns protect breeding birds from predators
  • leathery leaves
  • White flowers, sometimes with a little pink in May/June
  • Flowers somewhat pungent
  • Orange-red fruits like mini apples from September to December
  • 2 cm in diameter and edible
  • Taste floury and sweet-sour
  • Beautiful autumn colour
  • Wood for feeding and protecting birds
  • Fruits can be processed into jam, juice or wine
  • Flowers and leaves are used for tea
  • Grows fairly wide, less tall
  • Good shade provider

The care of the apple thorn

Caring for the apple thorn is not complicated. The tree or shrub is quite robust and not very susceptible. It gets along with most soils and needs a sunny to partially shaded location. The apple thorn is a deep-rooting plant, ideal for shading seating areas as many insects stay away from it. It takes a few years for the tree to bear fruit profusely, but then it is full of hundreds or even thousands of small apple-like fruits that are edible but taste quite mealy. It is better to process them and make juice or jam out of them. Alternatively, you can also leave them hanging for the birds.

The apple thorn does not need much water and no fertilizer. Some compost is quite sufficient. The plants are absolutely hardy and easy to cut. You don’t have to do that, but you should at least determine the growth form first and thin it out a bit later. The apple thorn is propagated by sowing or grafting.

Diseases are rare. Every now and then the dreaded fire blight occurs, which is why the trees and shrubs may not be planted everywhere. You should find out about it beforehand. Fire blight is notifiable and not for nothing. The disease is contagious and can cause a lot of damage. In areas where the apple thorn cannot be planted because of fire blight, it makes sense to switch to the normal hawthorn. This tree is also ecologically valuable and highly recommended as an alternative.


The location should be as sunny as possible. Partial shade is also accepted, but the apple thorn develops really well in the sun. In addition, a free stand is preferable, so to speak as a solitaire. This is how it looks best as a tree.

  • Sunny to semi-shady
  • Windfest
  • Good city tree that doesn’t mind polluted air

plant substrate

When it comes to plant substrate, the apple thorn is comparatively undemanding. It gets along with most garden soils as long as they are not too damp or even constantly wet. It tolerates dry soil much better.

  • Light to medium-heavy substrates
  • Likes it slightly chalky
  • Copes well with dry soil too
  • No waterlogging
  • Also suitable for keeping in tubs, at least for the first few years


There is not much to consider when planting an apple thorn. The soil should be improved with humus or compost, then sufficient nutrients are also provided. The tree should not be planted too close to the house, as the crown grows larger with age.

  • Deep-rooting, easy to plant under
  • Plant 4 to 5 m from the house
  • 2 posts to support high trunks
  • Place plant balls in water
  • Sufficiently large planting hole
  • Prepare the ground well
  • Loosen the soil in the hole to make it easy for the roots to penetrate deeper

watering and fertilizing

There is not much to do with watering and fertilizing the apple thorn. The shrub does not need much water, at least when it is established. Until then, it should be watered regularly. You don’t have to fertilize these trees. Some compost in the spring is quite sufficient.

  • Tolerates drought and heat
  • Water regularly for about a year after planting. Then the tree has grown and can manage on its own.
  • Water only in really long-lasting drought, then very penetrating
  • Does not tolerate waterlogging
  • No fertilizer necessary
  • Instead, work some compost into the soil in the spring

To cut

The apple thorn tolerates pruning well, but does not need to be pruned that much. Too many cut shoots spoil the beautiful appearance. The education or build-up cut is important at the beginning. Later it just needs to be cleared out. The wood can be cut as a standard.

  • The goal is to get a few, evenly shaped leading branches.
  • At the beginning, both the leading shoots and the side branches should be shortened by about 1/3.
  • Prune in February or early March, absolutely on a frost-free day when there is no sun
  • Make a build-up cut from the start
  • Leave only a few leading branches
  • The crown should have a pyramidal appearance.
  • Later, only a light thinning cut is necessary
  • Cut out inward growing or bulky branches
Note: It is important that the last sleeping eye, i.e. the last bud, faces outwards. Always work with very sharp and clean tools. The shoots must not be crushed. Bacteria, fungi and other pathogens can penetrate through bruises.


Hibernation is not a problem. The apple thorn is sufficiently hardy in Central Europe. He doesn’t need any protection.


Apple thorn can be propagated by seeding or grafting. When sown, however, the offspring often do not have the same characteristics as the mother tree.

diseases and pests

The apple thorn is not very susceptible to pests. Most don’t like the leathery foliage and prefer to look for another plant. Only the pear jewel beetle, which infests pear trees and hawthorns, is worth mentioning. Otherwise, the fire blight must be pointed out. This notifiable disease usually occurs regionally. In some regions, therefore, susceptible trees and shrubs may no longer be planted at all. So ask before planting!

  • Vulnerable to fire blight
    • recognizable by bent shoots that look as if they were burned
    • Typical are mostly dark brown to black colored stalks of the dead flowers and leaves on the diseased branches
  • Disease is caused by bacteria
  • When the first symptoms appear, cut away affected areas immediately
  • Cannot be controlled other than by cutting or felling
  • Prevention is therefore important
Note: Regular checks are also important. It starts with flowering. It is best to burn infested and cut off parts of the plant. A small amount of clippings can alternatively be disposed of in the residual waste bin. Cover larger quantities well and take to a waste incineration plant. Under no circumstances chop the wood and reuse it, nor compost it. Do not touch other plants – risk of infection. Disinfect used devices (with 70 percent alcohol)
  • Bacteria and fungi also attack the apple thorn from time to time.
  • Rare pests – the leathery leaves keep them away
  • Pear jewel beetle – usually appears after warm summers
    • Beetle itself is harmless
    • Larvae cause damage
    • Eggs are stored on the sun-facing side of the trunk
    • Young bore into the bark
    • Zigzag-shaped corridors are characteristic
    • Development of the larvae takes two years
    • In the second year of colonization, sap emerges from the bark area in spring
    • if the infestation is low, hardly any damage is to be expected
    • If the infestation is severe, the tree will die off after two to four years
    • Combat is difficult
    • Funds are only permitted for commercial cultivation
    • often the removal of the wood is the only way.

Frequently Asked Questions

From what year can fruit be expected?
If the tree is in good shape, fruit can be expected in the third or fourth year at the latest. There aren’t that many at first, but every year there are more. The older the apple thorn gets, the more fruit it will produce. The tree gets more beautiful every year.

How fast does an apple thorn grow?
With an optimal location and good care, the wood grows about 20 to 30 cm a year.

Can you also cultivate the apple thorn in a planter?
Yes, if a few things are taken into account.

  • Plant the plant in a container with a capacity of at least 10 liters in spring.
  • Substrate made of 80 percent white peat and 20 percent gravel, expanded clay or similar materials
  • Good drainage in the container, it is best to use coarse gravel
  • Separate from the plant substrate with fleece
  • Work in stone flour, horn shavings or compost when planting
  • Water regularly, but do not cause waterlogging
  • Fertilize with full nutrient fertilizer (4 g fertilizer per liter of substrate)
  • Lime substrate, pH value from 5.5 to 6
  • Repot into a slightly larger container every 2 to 3 years
  • In severe frost, protect the container and pack it well
  • Pruning as for planted specimens

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