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SPECIES:  Crataegus douglasii
Creative Commons image by Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service (retired),



SPECIES: Crataegus douglasii
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Habeck, R. J. 1991. Crataegus douglasii. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Updates: On 24 January 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: Douglas hawthorn to: black hawthorn. The map and other images were also added at that time.
ABBREVIATION: CRADOU SYNONYMS: Crataegus rivularis (Nutt.) Sarg. SCS PLANT CODE: CRDO2 COMMON NAMES: black hawthorn Douglas hawthorn river hawthorn western thornapple TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of black hawthorn is Crataegus douglasii (Lindl.) [18]. There are two extant varieties, each distinguishable by floral parts and geographic location [19]: C. douglasii var. douglasii, Douglas hawthorn (typical variety) C. douglasii var. rivularis, river hawthorn C. douglasii var. douglasii and C. douglasii var. rivularis have 10 stamens each and occupy mesic sites in the northern Rocky Mountains [6]. LIFE FORM: Tree, Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Crataegus douglasii
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: The most widespread occurrence of black hawthorn is in the Pacific Northwest, from southeastern Alaska south through British Columbia, Alberta, Washington, and Oregon to northern California.  Inland distribution encompasses northern Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming, western Montana, and Idaho. Douglas hawthorn may also be found as a disjunct in northern Michigan, Minnesota, Saskatchewan, and southern Ontario [3,24,33,37].
Distribution of black hawthorn. Map from USGS: 1976 USDA, Forest Service map provided by Thompson and others [38].
   FRES20  Douglas-fir
   FRES21  Ponderosa pine
   FRES28  Western hardwoods
   FRES29  Sagebrush
   FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub
   FRES35  Pinyon - juniper
   FRES36  Mountain grasslands

     AL  CA  CO  ID  MN  MT  NV  OR  UT  WA
     WY  AB  BC  ON  SK

   1  Northern Pacific Border
   2  Cascade Mountains
   3  Southern Pacific Border
   4  Sierra Mountains
   5  Columbia Plateau
   6  Upper Basin and Range
   8  Northern Rocky Mountains
   9  Middle Rocky Mountains

   K023  Juniper - pinyon woodland
   K037  Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub
   K038  Great Basin sagebrush
   K051  Wheatgrass - bluegrass
   K055  Sagebrush steppe

   220  Rocky Mountain juniper
   238  Western juniper
   239  Pinyon - juniper
   241  Western juniper


Douglas hawthorn generally occurs as an understory dominant in plant
community types, or associations.  It mostly occurs as an understory
species within sites dominated by black cottonwood (Populus
trichocarpa), eastern cottonwood (P. deltoides), quaking aspen (P.
tremuloides), or ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa).  In western Montana,
black hawthorn has been described as a nonextensive riparian dominance
type [17].  Pure stands of black hawthorn typically have an understory
occupied by Wood's rose (Rosa woodsii), chokecherry (Prunus virginiana),
or common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus).  In west-central Montana,
black hawthorn exhibited at least 5 percent cover value within the
tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa) community type [28].

Publications listing black hawthorn as an indicator or dominant
species in habitat types (hts), community types (cts), or dominance
types (dts) are presented below:

Area             Classification              Authority

   MT            Riparian dts                Hansen and others 1988
   WA            Steppe hts                  Daubenmire 1970
ne OR            Riparian cts                Kauffman and others 1985


SPECIES: Crataegus douglasii
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE: Douglas hawthorn has no known wood products value. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: Forage production is usually low from black hawthorn thickets.  Stands may be so dense as to preclude most livestock use.  Livestock will, however, readily eat black hawthorn foliage when it is accessible [11,17].  Douglas hawthorn thickets produce an abundant amount of food and cover for wildlife species [27].  Dried fruits and stems provide autumn food for frugivorous birds such as blue and sharp-tailed grouse in Washington and Idaho [10,17,27].  Mule deer and small mammals consume dry black hawthorn fruits in Utah during winter [1].  Marks and Marks [27] found that sharp-tailed grouse in western Idaho fed exclusively on black hawthorn fruits.  No documentation, however, is available concerning bud consumption when ripened fruits become unavailable. PALATABILITY: Seasonally, black hawthorn was found to be moderately palatable to livestock.  Evidence of hedging was apparent on many smaller individuals on a site in northeastern Oregon [20].  Cattle prefer black hawthorn thickets less than 3 feet (1 m) tall; stem utilization can often exceed 50 percent [28].  In Utah, black hawthorn is a poor browse species for sheep, cattle, and horses [12]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE: In general, the energy and protein value of black hawthorn is fair. For ungulates and waterfowl in Utah, the food value is rated fair to poor; for small nongame birds and mammals, it is rated good [12]. Nutritional information on black hawthorn fruit from the Rainbow Creek Research Natural Area, southeastern Washington, is presented below [29]:                 Mean             Standard Error                ------           ----------------- % Protein       3.740                  0.02 % Lipid         3.760                  0.08 % Neutral    Detergent   Fiber        19.340                  2.14 % Ash           3.990                  0.02 % Calcium       0.310                   NA % Magnesium     0.106                   NA % Phosphorus    0.156                   NA % Potassium     1.513                   NA * Percentages based on dry pulp masses COVER VALUE: Black hawthorn has good structural diversity, and provides both thermal and hiding cover.  Birds such as magpies and thrushes are especially attracted to black hawthorn for cover and nesting due to its thick, intricate branching [17].  Avian use is heaviest during the nesting/brooding season, and at the time of fruit ripening [11].  During the winter, black hawthorn continues to provide dense escape cover [27].  Black-billed magpie nests are built mainly in black hawthorn crowns, and long-eared owls will build their nests atop magpie nests [11].  Fourteen species of birds were found to use black hawthorn for nesting/brooding cover in northeastern Oregon [27].  Small mammals also use black hawthorn stands for cover.  Rickard [32] found deer mice and long-tailed voles living in black hawthorn thickets. In a 1979 summer census, it was estimated that 280 to 320 individuals/acre (700-800/ha) were inhabiting a black hawthorn community.  Mountain voles made up 80 percent of the population in all seasons [20]. The degree to which black hawthorn provides environmental protection during one or more seasons for wildlife species is presented below [12]:                        Utah       Wyoming                       ------     ---------- Pronghorn              poor         poor Elk                    ----         fair Mule deer              fair         good White-tailed deer      ----         good Small mammals          good         good Small nongame birds    good         good Upland game birds      good         good Waterfowl              poor         poor VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: Black hawthorn is an excellent soil and streambank stabilizer. Successful seedling establishment, however, is difficult, and growth rates are slow.  The use of transplanted nursery stock is recommended [17].  In north-central Washington, over 6,700 black hawthorn saplings were planted across 93 acres (37.5 ha) to provide forage and cover for wildlife adjacent to an altered reservoir site [9].  In Utah, the erosion control potential of black hawthorn is considered medium, short-term revegetation potential is low, and long-term revegetation potential is medium [12]. OTHER USES AND VALUES: Black hawthorn's brushy growth form makes it a desirable species for biological barriers between recreational areas and physical structures [17]. Native people of the Nuxalk Nation, Bella Coola, British Columbia, utilize black hawthorn fruits in the summer as food.  It has been estimated that one person can harvest 250 ml of fruits in approximately 1.5 minutes.  One black hawthorn tree averages 550 fruits [23]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Little is known about cultivating this genus.  Most hawthorns develop a long taproot and should not be kept in seedbeds more than 1 year [4]. Limited agriculture/livestock development will help maintain black hawthorn thickets, thus protecting an important food and cover species for wildlife [27].


SPECIES: Crataegus douglasii
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Black hawthorn is a large shrub or small tree ranging from 3.5 to 13.0 feet (1-4 m) tall and possessing straight, strong thorns 0.5 to 1.0 inch (1.00-2.50 cm) long.  Leaves are generally 1.5 to 2.5 inches (3-6 cm) long, broad, and serrated at the tip.  Blackish, smooth fruits are about 0.5 inch (1 cm) long.  Numerous mosses and lichens are present upon the entire bark system [4,19] Black hawthorn stems are usually clustered from the base or from a point just above the soil surface.  Shade-killed lower limbs persist on the stem, creating large, dense thickets [11].  Stems are very flexible and have been shown to withstand avalanche impact pressures of up to 10 tons per square meter [8]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM:    Phanerophyte    Cryptophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES: Black hawthorn produces many fertile seeds.  Following the removal of aboveground stems, black hawthorn will sprout and sucker from the root system [17]. Seeds:  The average amount of cleaned black hawthorn seeds collected from Washington, Idaho, and Oregon was 22,600 per pound (10,170/kg). Cultivation of black hawthorn seed requires pregermination treatments to break embryo dormancy.  Scarification in acid for 0.5 to 3.0 hours, followed by 84 to 112 days of cold treatment at 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 deg C) will generally yield 50 to 80 percent germination [4]. Morphological characteristics of black hawthorn fruit from Rainbow Creek Research Natural Area, southeastern Washington, are presented below [29]:                                   Mean         Standard Error                                  ------       ---------------- Fruit Diameter (mm)              11.11              0.08 Fruit Mass (mg)                 634.38             12.72 Pulp Dry Mass (mg)              109.43               NA Number of seeds per Fruit         4.78               NA Fresh Seed Mass per Fruit (mg)   83.74               NA Fresh Pulp Mass (mg)              6.58               NA (n=100) SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Black hawthorn can be found at lower elevations from 2,200 to 5,400 feet (670-1,645 m).  It typically forms small, dense, impenetrable thickets in irregular patterns across open areas or along moist riparian sites [3,17].  Black hawthorn is also found on steep, uncultivated slopes [11].  In west-central Montana, it is common on mesic valley and montane sites [22].  It can be found on all exposures, including dry southern exposures, where moisture levels are sufficient [11]. Soils:  Black hawthorn generally occurs on deep, moist, fine-textured soils.  Soils under black hawthorn stands were found to be cooler and wetter than adjacent steppe communities in eastern Washington [11]. These stands typically provide 100 percent soil cover, thus increasing soil moisture by decreasing surface soil temperatures [10].  Kauffman and others [20] found soils beneath black hawthorn in northeastern Oregon to have a thick A-horizon, 13 to 17 inches (33-43 cm), with evidence of mottling.  Depth to the parent material varied from 27 to 40 inches (69-100 cm), but was usually less than 30 inches (75 cm). SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Black hawthorn predominantly occurs as an understory species (see Habitat Types); however, it can be found in pure stands.  Typically, black hawthorn does not occupy disturbed sites [17].  Disturbance from fire, agricultural cropping, or flooding seems to inhibit proliferous growth [11].  Butler [7], however, found black hawthorn present on frequently disturbed areas such as avalanche shoots in Glacier National Park, Montana. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Specific information concerning the seasonal development of black hawthorn is not available.  Black hawthorn fruits are considered ripe when they are black and lustrous.  In Oregon fruit was dispersed from August 16 to 31, and in Washington from July 15 to 30 [35].


SPECIES: Crataegus douglasii
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Black hawthorn is fire tolerant [11].  This tree has a shallow and diffuse root structure that allows for sprouting and sucker-rooting following the destruction of aboveground parts [17]. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY:    survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex    survivor species; on-site surviving deep underground stems    off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2


SPECIES: Crataegus douglasii
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: Both high- and low-severity fires will consume the aboveground parts of black hawthorn. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT: The structural configuration of black hawthorn limbs makes it highly flammable due to the sheltering of dry grasses and twigs.  These fuels may create a "ladder" for fire to be carried up to the crown, destroying the entire thicket. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: The range of black hawthorn is limited by fire.  Removal of the plant may require years of growth for full reestablishment.  Frequent fires may confine black hawthorn plants to dense thickets [11]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE: Daubenmire [11] hypothesized that the expanded range of black hawthorn stands in eastern Washington was the result of improved agricultural cropping practices which exclude stubble burning.  Black hawthorn thickets have redeveloped from stump sprouts as the number and size of fires have decreased [11,26]. The following Research Project Summaries provide information on prescribed fire use and postfire response of plant community species black hawthorn:


SPECIES: Crataegus douglasii
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