Notice

Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

x Crataemespilus grandiflora Camus

Apparently naturally occurring Crataegus laevigata (Poir.) DC. x Mespilus germanica L. hybrid.  Frost-hardy shrub or small, broad-headed tree with ovate, occasionally lobed, hairy leaves, to 7cm, turning yellow-brown before dropping, and prolific white flowers borne in groups of 2 or 3, followed by brownish haws, resembling small medlars.  An apparently sterile hybrid found growing wild in France about 1800.  [RHSD, Hortus, Hilliers'].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘This tree, the origin of which is unknown, is considered by most botanists to be an accidental hybrid between Crataegus oxyacantha and Mespilus germanica; but Koehne considers it to be an independent species, possibly native of the Caucasus.  Five apparently wild shrubs were found in 1875 at Saint-Sernin-du-Bois, near Autun, in Seine-et-Loire, in a hedge around the ruins of an old priory, by Dr. Giliot, whose interesting article should be studied.  This remarkable tree, of which there is a good specimen 3 at Kew, near the Director's office, was in cultivation at Paris about 1800 ; and possibly earlier in England, as Loudon mentions old trees at Syon and other places near London.’  [Elwes & Henry - The Trees of Great Britain and Ireland, vol.VII, p.1732/1913].

A gentleman driving through Devon, past hedges of Hawthorn in full bloom, wrote to The Gardeners Chronicle with this description of Mespilus grandiflora, which could hardly be bettered: ‘I had ceased to regard [the hawthorn] with interest, when my eye was suddenly attracted by one having an abundance of star-like white blossoms.  I had passed it, but could not help looking back to observe again its singular appearance.  Satisfied by a second glance that it was different from anything I had seen before, I dismounted to examine it more minutely.  It was a large bush, similar in general growth, colour of bark, texture of wood, and thorns to the common Hawthorn bushes around it; but very different as regarded the leaves and blossoms.  The latter were like those of a strawberry, each set in a radius of leaves like that of the Rhododendron.  On some of the branches I observed some dark brown pods, the fruit of last year, somewhat similar to those of a Medlar but they contained no seed.’  [Gard. Chron. 1858].  

History at Camden Park

Presumably introduced to the gardens between 1850 and 1857.  Listed only in the 1857 catalogue [T.676/1857].

Notes

Published Feb 05, 2010 - 02:47 PM | Last updated Jul 30, 2010 - 05:59 PM

Family Rosaceae
Category
Region of origin

Naturally occurring hybrid, France

Synonyms
  • Crataego-mespilus x grandiflora Hort.
  • Mespilus grandiflora Sm.
  • Mespilus lobata Poir.
  • Mespilus smithii DC.
  • Crataegus grandiflora Hort.Belg. ex Hornem.
  • Crataegus oxyacantha-germanica Gillot
Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Mespilus grandiflora 

Confidence level

high