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yeddo-hawthorn

Rhaphiolepis

Rhaphiolepis (syn. Raphiolepis Lindl.) is a genus of about 15 species of evergreen shrubs and small trees in the family Rosaceae, native to warm temperate and subtropical eastern and southeastern Asia, from southern Japan, southern Korea and southern China south to Thailand and Vietnam. The genus is closely related to Eriobotrya (loquats). The common name hawthorn (shared with the related genus Crataegus) is used for the species.

The species vary in size, some only reaching 1-1.5 m, while R. ferruginea can reach 10 m. The leaves are alternate, leathery, glossy dark green, simple, 3-9 cm long, with an entire or serrated margin. The flowers are white or pink, 1-2 cm diameter, produced in small to large corymbs. The fruit is a small pome 1-2 cm diameter, ripening dark purple to black, usually containing only a single seed.

Cultivation and uses

The best known species is R. indica (Indian Hawthorn) from southern China, grown for its decorative pink flowers, and popular in bonsai culture. R. umbellata (Yeddo Hawthorn) from Japan and Korea has blunter leaves and white flowers. It is the hardiest species, tolerating temperatures down to about -15 °C.

The fruit is edible when cooked, and can be used to make jam.

Indian Hawthorn is a mainstay horticultural specimen in southern United States. It is often found in commercial as well as in private landscapes. Often it is trimmed into small compact hedges or balls for foundation plants. It has been successfully pruned into a standard form as well as small dwarf-like trees up to 15 feet in height.

The use of Rhaphiolepis in landscapes in humid regions is often limited by the high susceptibility of many of the genus' species and hybrids to a disfiguring leaf spot disease caused by fungi in the genus Entomosporium.

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