What Does It Look Like?
What is it?
Azzarola (Crataegus x sinaica) [as Crataegus sinaica] is a large deciduous shrub or small tree, usually 2–6 m in height, but growing up to 10 m. The bark is generally smooth when young, but becomes rough towards the base of the stems and branches in older plants. The stems are erect and spreading and sometimes armed with a few thorns 0.5 to 2.5 cm long, twigs covered with short woolly hairs to few hairs, very occasionally older twig are pruinose (covered with a waxy material). Leaves are alternate arranged, with two different types of shoots present, flowering and vegetative shoots. Leaves produced on the old woody short and flowering shoots are up to 6 cm long. Leaves produced on vegetative shoots are generally larger to 7.5 cm long, with petiole leaf stalk 1–2.5 cm long. All leaves are wedge shaped, have 3 sometimes or rarely 5 [mostly] forward pointing lobes, and can be distinctly toothed, particularly at the tips. Leaves above are deep-fresh green with a few long hair to no hairs, leaves below are lighter green have long hairs along major veins, and in the axis of main and secondary veins, w Leaf-like appendages often occur at the base of the leaves but are soon lost only seen when the leaves are produced in spring.
Flowers are borne in small clusters on short pedicels (flowers stalks) that are slightly hairy. Flowers are about 15 mm across, white or cream or pink, with 5 outer triangular green sepals 1.5–4 mm long, and 5 petals 4–8 mm long. The flowers have 20 stamens with pale pink red anthers before bursting open releasing pale yellow pollen. There are usually 2 (rarely one) stigmas that are club shaped.
Fruits are fleshy, firm, globular 'berries' are orange-red to red to deep red when ripe, and are 1–2.5 cm in diameter. These 'berries' are and enclose 2–3 hard brown seeds (Symon 1986; Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001; Navie 2004).
For further information and assistance with identification of Azzarola contact the herbarium in your state or territory.
Growth form (weed type/habit)
Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat
Azzarola invades a broad range of vegetation communities including riparian and coastal and sub-coastal temperate regions. It infests old gardens, disturbed sites and degraded native habitats, predominantly near populated areas (Navie 2004; Government of South Australia 2021).
Are there similar species?
Azzarola (Crataegus x sinaica) is a spiny plant with relatively large, reddish-coloured, fruit (10-25 mm across) that contain two or three hard 'seeds' (i.e. pyrenes). Its young stems are covered in soft hairs (i.e. they are pubescent).
It is also similar to azarole (Crataegus azarolus) a spineless plant with similar sized yellow-orange ripe fruit (up to 20 mm across) that usually contain two or three hard 'seeds' (i.e. pyrenes).
Azzarola is similar to Hawthorn (C. monogyna), but the latter species has relatively small fruit (5–12 mm across), only 1 seed per fruit (as opposed to 2–3 seeds per fruit in Azzarola), and young stems that are generally hairless (glabrous) (Navie 2004).
Azzarola is similar to the Cotoneasters (Cotoneaster species), but these species have leaves with entire margins, and do not have spines (Symon 1986). Azzarola is also similar to the Firethorns (Pyracantha species). However, Firethorns have leaves with entire or finely toothed margins, and are not lobed (Navie 2004).