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Hawthorn Tree Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Hawthorn Tree Flower Meaning and Symbolism

The hawthorn flower is the May birth flower and has a hawthorn flower meaning fertility, love, longevity, grace, and beauty. These shrubs produce gorgeous flowers but an unpleasant odor due to trimethylamine, which gives these flowers associations of death. 

About the Hawthorn Flower

The hawthorn tree goes by the botanical name Crataegus laevigata of the genus crataegus and belongs to the Rosacea (Rose) family. The Crataegus genus has over 100 species, plus many more subspecies and hybrids.

History and Origin

The hawthorn plant is native to the northern hemisphere, including the continents of Asia, Europe, North Africa, and North America. 

Hawthorn blossoms have associations with an ancient festival for celebrating spring – Beltane. In addition, this plant has significance in Celtic mythology as a sign of protection and love. 

May flowers can live hundreds of years, being a sign of longevity. 

Common Names

Hawthorn tree flowers also go by thornapple, gaxels, hagthorn, hawberry, quickthorn, or may tree. 


Hawthorn trees form as small thorny trees with sturdy wood on single trunks covered in rough, fluted gray bark. Hawthorn can grow to 15’ to 25 feet in height. 

Foliage is deeply lobed toothed alternately in European types. And oval leaves in Asian and American hawthorn trees with white flowers in spring, starting in May. 

Flowers grow in grouped corymbs and can also be red or pink, with five petals and red stamens, formed in single, double, or semi-double blooms. By September, hawthorn trees produce edible fruits.

Hawthorn Flower Care

The hawthorn tree doesn’t require a lot of work. However, during the first year after planting, you will need to provide regular watering during summer droughts. 

These flowers need full sun, although they can tolerate partial shade, affecting the fruit and flower formation. In addition, it needs well-draining soil and doesn’t have a preference for pH content. 

Prune the hedges after they’ve finished flowering, usually from the end of June to the start of July. You can prune the shrub quite short, starting as soon as you plant, which will cause the plant to branch out. 

Removing the low side branches and shoots can encourage hawthorn to grow into trees. Every year, keep moving up towards the top of the plant to maintain a single trunk.  

Uses Throughout History

The hawthorn plant has healing abilities recognized by numerous countries. It can treat heart palpitations from menopause and cardiac rhythm disorders. And it improves the transportation of blood to the heart from the arteries. 

Hawthorn can also be a natural remedy to help anxious, nervous people who struggle with sleep problems. At the same time, the red fruit berries have astringent properties that can be good for treating sore throats.

Hawthorn trees were commonly used for making maypoles. And it’s been used for hedgerows – growing fences – for protection and security. 

Hawthorn Flower Symbolism

There are a few hawthorn flower meanings developed throughout the centuries. For example, many people have believed that hawthorn trees offer shelter for fairies, the trees’ guardians. 

Etymological Meaning

Hawthorn is from haw, an Old English word for hedge. Haw comes from haguthorn, meaning a fence with thorns in Anglo-Saxon. 

Crataegus combines the Greek words Kratos (strength) and akis (sharp), describing the shrub’s strong, sturdy branches, which are difficult to break, and the tree’s sharp thorns.


Hawthorn has been the birth flower for May going back centuries. And they’ve also been used to celebrate the first day of May. In addition, it’s used for decor during Beltane – a celebration of the Gaelic May Day.


In Ancient Greece, Hawthorn flowers were used during weddings and presented as an offering on altars for the god of marriage, Hymenaeus. 


Hawthorns are symbolic of fertility because the shrubs form an abundance of berries, leaves, and flowers. Therefore, no matter the season, these trees will thrive with growth. 

Beauty and Grace

These trees can also mean grace and beauty. The unique look and bright colors of the green leaves, white flowers, and red berries make these plants a common choice for ornamental use.

Hawthorn Flower Color Meaning

Hawthorn flowers can also change in meaning based on the flower color. 


The primary color of these plants is the white hawthorn. A white hawthorn blossom means purity, hope, fertility, faith, wedding celebrations, happiness, and protection from evil. 


A pink hawthorn tree means romantic love, a relationship between opposites, youthful vitality, magic, and energy. 

Hawthorn Flower FAQ

Find out more about the hawthorn birth flower with these commonly asked questions.

What Does a Hawthorn Flower Tattoo Represent?

A hawthorn flower tattoo is less common than other floral tattoos. But a hawthorn tattoo can symbolize protection, optimism, longevity, good luck, and knowledge passed down to families through the generations. But the hawthorn birth flower tattoo can also welcome the future and all its’ possibilities.

What Does a Hawthorn Flower Smell Like?

Hawthorns have a spicy aroma that’s similar to almonds. The heavy fragrance is loved by some and hated by others. But other people feel like the scent is foul and similar to death due to having chemicals that cause tissue to decay.

When Should You Give Someone a Hawthorn Flower?

Hawthorns is a suitable gift for a person you love. Unfortunately, it’s less likely to give these flowers as a bouquet due to their short-cut life. But you can gift a hawthorn tree as a celebration, good luck wishes, and optimism for the future and achievements. 

When are Hawthorn Flowers in Season?

Hawthorn flowers form during the spring, usually around April to early May. 

Are Hawthorn Flowers Annuals or Perrenials?

Hawthorns grow year-round and flower in spring.

Final Thoughts

Hawthorns are low-growing shrubs to trees with a noticeable odor and groupings of small flowers. These year-round plants with gorgeous flowers in spring give them the name May flowers. The long lifespan of 400 years gives the hawthorn meaning of longevity, love, beauty, grace, and fertility.