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Characteristics of Indian Hawthorn Tree (Rhaphiolepis indica) in the Wild

Indian Hawthorn Tree (Rhaphiolepis indica)

Indian Hawthorn also called Hong Kong Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica) is a shrub in the Rosaceae family, which originates from Southern China, Japan, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Apart from its popular name, Indian Hawthorn, Rhaphiolepis indica is also known by many other names such as Sexton’s Bride, Yedda Hawthorn, and Hong Kong Hawthorn.

Indian Hawthorn is grown as an ornamental plant because it produces pink or white flowers, and is a fairly popular species in the bonsai community. The fruit is edible and can also be used to make jam.

Indian Hawthorn is a mainstay horticultural specimen in the southern United States. This plant is often found in both commercial and private landscapes. Often pruned to be smaller or ball-shaped.

In Japan, this plant is also known as “Teechigi” (テカチ木), and its pulp is known as “Sharinbai” (しゃりんばい) when the dried bark or roots are boiled and mixed with iron or lime as a mordant, it can produce a dark brown dye. Indian Hawthorn has been used in Japan for more than 400 years in the technique of making silk cloth. In the Hainan islands of China, it is used to make shima-tsumugi textiles and some fishing nets. Additionally, this plant is used in the Japanese mud dyeing technique known as dorozome from the Amami Islands. In dorozome, the twigs are cut into small pieces and boiled in a large cauldron for two days. Then it is filtered and the threads are soaked in the boiled water to produce a golden orange color. The more often the thread is dipped and dried, the darker the color will become.

Characteristics of Indian Hawthorn Leaf

Rhaphiolepis indica Leaf
Source: kerry_lukies

The leaves are leathery, oval, alternate, serrated, and appear circular at the end of the stem. Initially, they appear bronze in color and turn to dark green as they age. The leaf blades measure 4-8 × 1.5-4 cm. The leaf stalks are 0.5-1.8 cm long or almost non-existent, and slightly brown.

Characteristics of Indian Hawthorn Flower

Rhaphiolepis indica Flower
Source: pennywish

Flowers 1-1.5 cm in diameter, petals are white or pink, ovate or lanceolate, measuring 5-7 × 4-5 mm. Stamens 15, the same length or shorter than the flower petals.

Characteristics of Indian Hawthorn Fruit

Rhaphiolepis indica Fruit
Source: squirrellychops

The fruit is a black, berry-shaped fruit that appears after flowering and lasts through the winter months. Birds and small mammals are attracted to this fruit.

Characteristics of Indian Hawthorn Tree

Rhaphiolepis indica Tree
Source: alexngwl

Indian Hawthorn grows as a shrub or small tree that rarely reaches a height of 4 meters. The branches are purplish brown when young, turn grayish brown when old, cylindrical, and bare in old age.

Indian Hawthorn is easy to find on slopes, roadsides, and bushes on river sides at an altitude of 700-1,600 meters above sea level in its distribution area.

This plant is often used as an ornamental plant, hedge plant, and bonsai.

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