Missouri State Flower (Floral Emblem)

Hawthorn Blossom

Missouri State Flower - Hawthorn Blossom


Adopted on March 16, 1923.

Hawthorn Blossom (of tree commonly called the "red haw" or "wild haw").

On March 16, 1923, Governor Arthur M. Hyde signed a bill naming the white hawthorn blossom, (Crataegus,) the official state floral emblem of Missouri. Though a specific variety of hawthorn is not named in the legislation, the Missouri Department of Conservation asserts that the downy hawthorn, (Crataegus mollis,) is the species deserving of the recognition.

Known as the "red haw" or "white haw," the hawthorn (crateagus) is a member of the great rose family, which resembles the apple group. The hawthorn blossoms have greenish-yellow centers and form in white clusters. More than 75 species of the hawthorn grow in Missouri, particularly in the Ozarks.

Missouri State Flower: Hawthorn Blossom

Missouri State Flower - Hawthorn Blossom

The genus Crataegus, which includes our two native hawthorns, comprises some 100 - 200 species of deciduous trees and shrubs depending upon which botanists you want to believe. Crataegus is part of the rose family, which contains many of our cultivated temperate fruits such as apples, pears, plums, cherries, peaches and apricots. Most of the Hawthorns are natives of North America; others are natives of Europe, Asia Minor, China, Japan, the Old World and the Himalayas. Hawthorns are beautiful, flowering trees suitable for shading patios, decorating lawns and lining streets. These hard-wooded trees can be grown in exposed locations as well as tolerate city living. Hawthorns begin to bloom two years after planting. Pink, white or red, 5-petaled flowers are produced in 2- to 3-inch clusters, in the spring. The blossoms are followed by red, apple-shaped fruits that are less than an inch across. These fruits, called haws, can be used to make jelly or jam. They often persist on the branches well into the winter.

Characteristics of the Hawthorn

  • Leaf: Highly variable, but generally simple, 2 to 4 inches long, alternate, serrate and lobed, subtending long thorns.
  • Fall Color: Although not one of the primary ornamental features of this hybrid, leaf coloration is still quite nice in the fall. Changing from its lustrous green to a golden yellow, the foliage picks up traces of red, purple, and maroon.
  • Flower: Usually white flowers produced in clusters near the end of the twig, like most members of the family Rosaceae, usually with 5 petals. Present in spring, generally May.
  • Fruit: 1/4 to 1/2" in diameter, the brilliant red fruit start forming in late September or early October. They cover the tree quite nicely, persisting through the winter months.
  • Twig: Slender, gray in color, with true terminal buds that are usually dark red. Most species have obvious thorns. Leaf scars contain 3 bundle scars.
  • Bark: The outer bark of this hawthorn is beige-gray, but exfoliates off in sheets or patches to expose a warm cinnamon under-bark. This characteristic will form on branches as they mature. Younger branches are silver-green in color, sparsely bearing 1" thorns.
  • Form: Generally very dense shrubs or small trees.

Missouri Law

The law designating the hawthorn blossom as the official Missouri state floral emblem is found in the Missouri Revised Statutes, Title 2, Chapter 10, Section 10.030.

SECTION 10.030.  State floral emblem.

10.030. The hawthorn, the blossom of the tree commonly called the "red haw" or "wild haw" and scientifically designated as crataegus, is declared to be the floral emblem of Missouri, and the state department of agriculture shall recognize it as such and encourage its cultivation on account of the beauty of its flower, fruit and foliage.

(RSMo 1939 § 15440, RSMo 1949 § 10.090, A.L. 1957 p. 726)
Prior revision: 1929 § 14315

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Hawthorn

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
    Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
    Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
    Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae - Rose family
Genus: Crataegus L. - hawthorn

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