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Downy Hawthorn is one of the more common Crataegus spp. (hawthorns) in Illinois, particularly in the northern half of the state. It is relatively easy to recognize (for a hawthorn) because of its pubescent leaves, pubescent shoots, and pubescent immature fruits. The showy fruits of this species are among the first to mature among hawthorns, although they remain on the tree for only a short time before falling to the ground. The edible fruits have a pleasant flavor, although they are seedy. Across its range, there is some variability in the shape of the leaves and other characteristics of this small tree or shrub. As a result, many former species (Crataegus altrix, C. declivitatis, C. lanigeraC. nupera, C. pachyphylla, C. ridwayi, C. sera, C. umbrosa, C. valens, C. verna, and C. verosa) are now regarded as different forms of Crataegus mollis (Downy Hawthorn).

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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