Weeds in Australia


Crataegus x sinaica


Azzarola (Crataegus x sinaica) [as Crataegus sinaica] is a large deciduous shrub or rounded spiny tree usually 2-6 m in height, but growing up to 10 m. The stems are erect and spreading and armed with a few thorns 0.5 to 2.5 cm long. The bark is generally smooth when young, but becomes rough towards the base of the stems and branches in older plants. Leaves are wedge shaped, alternately arranged, 1-6 cm long and borne on long stalks. The leaves are usually deeply lobed with 3 to (rarely) 5 lobes, and can be distinctly toothed, particularly at the tips. Flowers are white, cream or pink, with 5 petals about 15 mm across, shortly stalked and occur in dense clusters. The flowers are strongly scented. Fruits are fleshy, firm, globular 'berries', 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.


Azzarola is not widely naturalised in Australia, and is found mostly near populated areas, particularly on Mt. Lofty and the Adelaide foothills in South Australia, in suburban Melbourne in Victoria and the ACT (Symon 1986; Navie 2004; Richardson et al. 2006).


Tree, Shrub

Key points:
  • Azzarola (Crataegus x sinaica) is a thorny, upright shrub or small tree occurring in coastal and subcoastal temperate regions in Australia.
  • It is not widely established, and only occurs with any frequency in suburban areas near Adelaide and Melbourne, due to its cultivation as an ornamental or hedge plant.
  • The specific environmental and agricultural impacts of Azzarola are not fully understood, but it would likely have similar impacts to Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna).
How it spreads:

Azzarola produces a large number of seed, which are dispersed to new areas by birds and mammals (foxes, possums and wallaroos), which eat the fruit. Seeds can also be dispersed by water. Germination success is said to increase when the seeds pass through the digestive tract of birds, which can disperse seeds widely. The roots can sucker after disturbance. The fruit can contaminate farm machinery, vehicles, agricultural produce, and garden waste, but these vectors are thought to be of little significance for its spread (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001; Navie 2004).

Where it grows:

Azzarola occurs in coastal and subcoastal temperate regions. It infests old gardens, disturbed sites and degraded native habitats, predominantly near populated areas (Navie 2004).

Flower colour:

White, Pink

Distribution map:

Australia's Virtual Herbarium (AVH) (2007). Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria (CHAH). Available at http://www.chah.gov.au/avh/index.jsp 

For South Australia see: Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation (2005). Infestation Level of Crataegus sinaica (AZZAROLA) by Hundreds in the State of South Australia. Available at http://www.dwlbc.sa.gov.au/assets/files/lbsap_azzarola.pdf 


Not much is known about the specific impacts of Azzarola as is it not widely established in Australia. It is likely to have similar environmental and agricultural impacts to the closely related species Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) such as invading native and agricultural lands, restricting stock movement and providing harbour for pest animals (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001). See Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) profile for more details.


Azzarola is native to the Middle East (Symon 1986).


The time of introduction of Azzarola into Australia is not known, but it was probably introduced as an ornamental, and is naturalised near Adelaide (South Australia) and Melbourne (Victoria).


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