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Crataegus azarolus - L.

Common Name Azarole
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Dry hillsides and mountains in woods and hedges[50].
Range S. Europe to W. Asia.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Wet Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Crataegus azarolus Azarole

Crataegus azarolus Azarole


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Crataegus azarolus is a deciduous Tree growing to 10 m (32ft 10in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in June. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Midges.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


C. aronia.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw or cooked in pies, preserves etc[1, 2, 3, 11, 34, 183]. The fruit can be used fresh or dried for later use. A pleasant acid taste[89]. In warm temperate areas the fruit develops more fruit sugars and has a fragrant sugary pulp with a slightly acid flavour[183]. It can be eaten out of hand. In cooler zones, however, the fruit does not develop so well and is best cooked or used in preserves[183]. The fruit is very variable in size and colour, it is up to 25mm in diameter[200]. There are up to five fairly large seeds in the centre of the fruit, these often stick together and so the effect is of eating a cherry-like fruit with a single seed[K].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Cardiotonic  Hypotensive

Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the fruits and flowers of many hawthorns are well-known in herbal folk medicine as a heart tonic and modern research has borne out this use. The fruits and flowers have a hypotensive effect as well as acting as a direct and mild heart tonic[222]. They are especially indicated in the treatment of weak heart combined with high blood pressure[222]. Prolonged use is necessary for it to be efficacious[222]. It is normally used either as a tea or a tincture[222].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Wood - heavy, hard, tough, close-grained. Useful for making tool handles, mallets and other small items[82].

Special Uses

Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A very easily grown plant, it prefers a well-drained moisture retentive loamy soil but is not at all fussy[11, 200]. Once established, it succeeds in excessively moist soils and also tolerates drought[200]. It grows well on a chalk soil and also in heavy clay soils[200]. A position in full sun is best when plants are being grown for their fruit, they also succeed in semi-shade though fruit yields and quality will be lower in such a position[11, 200]. Most members of this genus succeed in exposed positions, they also tolerate atmospheric pollution[200]. The azarole has long been cultivated for its edible fruit in S. Europe, though it is now going out of favour[3, 11]. There are some named varieties[46]. Seedling trees take from 5 - 8 years before they start bearing fruit, though grafted trees will often flower heavily in their third year[K]. The flowers have a foetid smell somewhat like decaying fish. This attracts midges which are the main means of fertilization. When freshly open, the flowers have more pleasant scent with balsamic undertones[245]. Hawthorns in general hybridize freely with other members of the genus[200]. Seedlings should not be left in a seedbed for more than 2 years without being transplanted[11].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - this is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame, some of the seed will germinate in the spring, though most will probably take another year. Stored seed can be very slow and erratic to germinate, it should be warm stratified for 3 months at 15°c and then cold stratified for another 3 months at 4°c[164]. It may still take another 18 months to germinate[78]. Scarifying the seed before stratifying it might reduce this time[80]. Fermenting the seed for a few days in its own pulp may also speed up the germination process[K]. Another possibility is to harvest the seed 'green' (as soon as the embryo has fully developed but before the seedcoat hardens) and sow it immediately in a cold frame. If timed well, it can germinate in the spring[80]. If you are only growing small quantities of plants, it is best to pot up the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in individual pots for their first year, planting them out in late spring into nursery beds or their final positions. When growing larger quantities, it might be best to sow them directly outdoors in a seedbed, but with protection from mice and other seed-eating creatures. Grow them on in the seedbed until large enough to plant out, but undercut the roots if they are to be left undisturbed for more than two years.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Crataegus acclivis Tree8.0 4-8  LMHSNMWe42 
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Crataegus apricaSunny HawthornTree6.0 5-9  LMHSNDMWe322
Crataegus armena Tree0.0 -  LMHSNMWe222
Crataegus arnoldianaArnold HawthornTree7.0 5-9  LMHSNDMWe522
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Crataegus canbyiCockspur hawthorn, Dwarf Hawthorn, Cockspur HawthornShrub5.0 4-7 MLMHSNDMWe222
Crataegus champlainensisQuebec hawthornTree6.0 5-9  LMHSNMWe422
Crataegus chlorosarca Tree6.0 -  LMHSNMWe322
Crataegus chrysocarpaFireberry Hawthorn, Red haw, Piper's hawthorn,Tree6.0 4-8  LMHSNMWe322
Crataegus coccinoidesKansas HawthornTree6.0 4-8  LMHSNDMWe322
Crataegus columbianaColumbian HawthornTree5.0 4-8  LMHSNMWe322
Crataegus crus-galliCockspur Thorn, Cockspur hawthorn, Dwarf HawthornShrub10.0 4-7 MLMHSNDMWe223
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Crataegus ellwangerianaScarlet HawthornTree6.0 5-7  LMHSNMWe522
Crataegus elongata Shrub4.0 0-0  LMHSNMWe422
Crataegus festiva Shrub3.0 6-9  LMHSNMWe522
Crataegus flabellataFanleaf hawthornShrub6.0 4-8  LMHSNMWe323

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

Dr.Volodymyr Mezhenskyj   Mon May 31 21:00:48 2004

Crataegus Cultivars

Dear Sirs,

I work with hawthorns as a new fruit crop. In 2001 the following pomological cultivars are included in the Register of Plant Varieties of the Ukraine: `Ljudmyl` - branches spineless, fruits orange red, 2-2.5 cm in diameter, weighing 4.5 (max 10) g, satisfactory taste, ripen in September; `Shamil` - branches with not numerous spines 3-4 cm in length, fruits red, 2 cm in diameter, weighing 4 (max 6) g, good taste, ripen in September; `Zbigniew` - branches with numerous spines 5-6 cm in length, fruits bright red, 2 cm in diameter, weighing 3,5 (max 5) g, good taste, ripen in August. The promising selection is `Zlat` - branches spineless, fruits yellow, up to 2 cm in diameter, weighing 3(max 4) g, good taste, ripen in September.

Dr.Volodymyr Mezhenskyj, Artemivsk Research Center of Institution of Horticulture, Opytne, Artemivsk, Donetska obl., 84571 UKRAINE

Stuart Peachey   Fri Feb 9 2007

Does this 16-17th century variety still exist? Where can one obtain grafts if it does. 1597 Neopolitan Medlar (I: GH1454,PP569) [Crateagus Azerolus]. Synonyms: Aronia (GH1453,GH1454) Azarolo (GH1455) Three grained Medlar (GH1455) Medlar of Naples (I: PP569) (GH1455) 1597 "The Neapolitane Medlar tree groweth to the height and greatnesse of an Apple tree, having many tough and hard boughes or branches, set with sharp thornes like the white Thorne, or Hawthorne: the leaves are very much cut or jagged like the Hawthorne leaves, but greater, and more like Smallage or Parsley, which leaves before they fall from the tree do wax red: amongst these leaves come forth great tufts of floures of a pale herby colour: which being past, there succeed small long fruit lesser than the smallest Medlar, which at the first are hard, and greene of colour, but when they be ripe, they are both soft and red, of a sweet and pleasant taste: wherein is contained three small hard stones, as in the former, which be the kernels or seeds thereof." (GH1454) 1629 "The Medlar of Naples groweth likewise to bee a reasonable great tree, spreading forth armes and branches, whereon are set many gathered leaves, somewhat like unto Hawthorne leaves, but greater, and likewise divers thornes in many places: the flowers are of an green herbie colour, and small, which turne into smaller fruit then the former (English Varieties), and rounder also, but with a small head or crowne at the top like unto it, and is of a more sweete and pleasant taste then the other, with three seeds only therein ordinarily." (PP568). 1664 Neopolitan (EK496). 1664 Azerole (EK496) Although known as a medlar it was a separate species, a cultivar of Crateagus Azerolus. It is related to Hawthorn [Crateagus Oxacantha] as evidenced by the “set with sharp thornes like the white Thorne, or Hawthorne: the leaves are very much cut or jagged like the Hawthorne leaves, but greater” (GH1454). Crateagus Azerolus still grows wild in Nature reserves in Lebanon.

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Sun Feb 11 2007

The Azarole is currently being supplied by four nurseries in Britain (see http://www.rhs.org.uk/RHSPlantFinder/plantfinder.asp for details of these nurseries). Unfortunately, no cultivars are currently being offered though a form called 'White Italian' was offered a few years ago. It is possible that other old varieties are still being grown - please send us a comment if you know of any.

Antonios Karpasitis   Sun Oct 14 2007

The plant is very common in Cyprus (where I come from) and in the eastern mediterranean. According to the book of Kyriaki Zannetou Panteli "The Medicinal Properties of Plants of Cyprus", in addition to its heart tonic properties it is also beneficial in cases of insomnia, stress and arthritis.

Francisco Felipe   Sat Apr 26 2008

Crataegus azarolus was a popular small tree cultivated in North of Castille and other regions in Central Spain, as in my birth province (Palencia), where I often ate es as a child (now I am 46), specially enjoied in the countryside as a natural fence-maker and grown close to stone walls and in the boundaries of cultivated lands. Now its cultivation is been widely abandoned, but still possible to find in nourseries in two cultivars, the red (small and flavoury) and pale yellow (a bit bigger and less tasty than the red, but also very nice). Although not natural in Spain, it has been introduced for many centuries and was popular already in the Middle Ages, and metioned in differente versions of Dioscorides by spanish renacentis schoolars and in old gardenbooks (like Gregorio de los Ríos, one of the gardeners of Philipp the Second). It makes some prolems to grow from seeds, as most of Crategous, even more then the other hawthorns and mayflowers growing naturally in Spain (C. monogyna, C. oxyacantha, C. laevigiata, C. laciniata). I have a couple of red fruit growing in my garden at 1000 m altitude in the mountains of Madrid, graft on C. monogyna. The trees are now (April 2008) with the first white flowers and many more about to blossom, about sametime as the cultivated apple trees or couple of weeks later, but the leaves shooted early March. The frutis production changes very much form year to year, as I know from my familly, some yaeras bearing many fruits and others almost emptied, this is partly natural to hte species and partly also becasue this tree is quite sensible to the climate conditions in order to polinization and fruit development.

George J. Cefai   Thu Jun 11 2009

"Azarale" as it was known here in Gozo Malta, was available many years ago on a hill (dead Volcano?) called 'The Hill of Merzuq' here on the island between Marsalforn Bay and the main road to our city Victoria. Later on in 1904 the Diocesy of Gozo was dedicated to Christ the Savoiur and a Statue was erected up there accordingly. Therefore This hill is also known as 'Tas-Salvatur'. Our children use to go right to the top of this hill to collect this azarolus. May I invite you all to visit Gozo and make sure that you go right to the top of'The Hill of Merzuq'. Please visit our website www.bandasantamarija.com and from the menu choose "Ritratt tal-Gimgha" ie: photo of the week and currently (June 11, 2009)it is showing the said 'Merzuq Hill'.

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