Hawthorn rootstock

I have a decently well-established hawthorn tree that I’ve debated removing. I’ve read that they can be used as apple, pear, and medlar rootstock, but the reviews seem to be mixed, with a lot reporting delayed incompatibility.

Do any of you have personal experience grafting onto hawthorn? How did it work out for you?

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Have one out in the orchard. Native cockspur hawthorn (C. crus-galli) that I lifted from the cow pasture. Grafted an unknown pear onto it back around 2001. Still going ok; quite dwarfing - the tree is only 8 ft (may be taller, I’ve not looked at it this year); certainly less than 10 ft. Exhibiting a very columnar growth habit, and shy bearing… but that may be typical for that variety (whatever it is).
Had Ubileen pear on another one that was in the way when my wife put in the tennis court. Probably close to 10 years old, it was only about 5 ft tall; grafted variety was significantly larger caliper than the hawthorn understock, but I had not bothered to stake it, and it seemed to be a very strong union… but in advancing years I’d have been afraid that it might fail, just due to size differences.


Sounds like it’s worth a shot, then. Might as well try medlar, too while I’m at it.

Anybody have luck with quince or apple?

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I did cleft grafts of 3 different apple types, and 3 different euro pear varieties on a wild hawthorn this spring. All the grafts took and grew for about 2 months, then turned black and died.

I cut down the hawthorn after that. I really wanted a pear, and since wild callery rootstocks are so readily available it’s not worth the effort to me to try and find something compatible.

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Over here in Germany hawthorne had been widely used as rootstock for pears, quince and medlars. There sometimes are compatibility issues. The main reason its no longer used in nurseries is its susceptibility to fireblight. As far as I know it doesnt work for apples.

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