Winter King Hawthorn (Crataegus viridis ‘Winter King’) has been described many times as “a tree for all seasons”. And it certainly is.
While many ornamental trees only offer the benefits of spring flowers, Winter King Hawthorn offers outstanding character throughout the year.
In the spring it boasts abundant clusters of white flowers and summer foliage is an attractive, glossy green. Fall color varies widely from golden yellow to rusty red to wine red depending on its environment.
But ‘Winter King’ was aptly named because it’s at its finest from November through February when the exfoliating bark and the orange-red fruit jump out against the snow and winter sky.
Fruits are small, abundant and in addition to their ornamental flair they also serve as a secondary food source for birds and squirrels.
In northern Illinois you can expect Winter King to grow to about 20’ tall and 20’ wide. It is adaptable to a wide variety of soils, a relatively slow grower and a very clean tree. It is hardy in USDA Zones 5-7.
Although native to Illinois, Winter King Hawthorn is not widely grown, possibly because of growth rate. But if you are willing to be patient, it is one of the finest, showy and most reliable flowering trees for the residential landscape.