November 28, 2014
By Stan Rosenthal
This year’s Leon County Adopt-A-Tree is the eastern mayhaw. This smaller tree has many common names such as May hawthorn, mayhaw or apple hawthorn. Of course it has only one scientific name (Crataegus aestivalis).
It is a smaller tree of the southeast growing to a maximum of about 25 feet. One of the neat things about this tree is the blooms. If planted in the correct spot, you get nice white to pinkish blooms appearing in late spring.
The eastern mayhaw is native to swamps, but will tolerate a wide variety of soils. It will grow well in semi-shade but will give you much better flowering and fruiting in full sun. Like other species of hawthorn, the mayhaw can have conspicuously thorny branches so plant this tree where it won’t be a danger. It has a vase like spreading form.
Another fun part of this tree is its fruit. Technically the fruit is known as a pome. Apple tree fruits are also pomes. The fruits are popular with many species of wildlife and are also popular for making preserves and jellies. The fruit is juicy and has a pleasant flavor. The fruit can also be dried for later use. It usually takes 5 – 8 years before the trees will start bearing fruit. There are up to five fairly large seeds in the center of the fruit, these often stick together and so the effect is of eating a cherry-like fruit with a single seed.
If you would like to have a free mayhaw tree there are a couple of requirements. First you must live inside Leon County but outside of Tallahassee city limits. You also must agree to water the tree three times a week for one year unless we are receiving lots of rain. If all this works for you, Leon County’s Public Works Department will plant the tree anywhere between your house and any publicly-maintained road or any privately-maintained road with public access. To have a tree planted on your property between February and March 2015, simply fill out an application online at www.LeonCountyFL.gov/AdoptATree and place a wooden stake at the desired location. Public Works will try to get as close to the designated area as possible. One tree per household per year will be planted.
The application deadline is Friday, January 31, 2015.
Stan Rosenthal is an Extension Agent with Leon County/University of Florida IFAS Extension. For gardening questions, email us at Ask-A-Mastergardener@leoncountyfl.gov