The hawthorn is a dense, thorny shrub, but can also grow into a small tree up to 12 metres high. It has dull brown bark with vertical orange cracks. Its dark green leaves are obovate and deeply lobed. The white flowers have five petals and red stamens. They appear in late May and early June and turn pink as they mature. It bears small, dark red, apple-like fruits, known as haws.
The hawthorn is very widely distributed throughout the lowlands of Europe and is common on all soils except the most acidic.