Biltmore Bot. Stud. 1: 113. 1902.
Shrubs or trees, 20–60 dm, branches strongly weeping (moving in slight wind). Stems: twigs: new growth densely appressed-white-hairy, 1-year old gray-brown to purple-brown, older gray, slender; thorns on twigs absent or numerous, straight, 2-years old purple-brown to gray, ± fine, 1–4 cm. Leaves: petiole length 20–25% blade, densely pubescent, glandular at least young; blade usually spatulate or narrowly oblong to narrowly oblanceolate or narrowly elliptic, 1–2.5 cm, thin (drooping or fluttering in wind), base cuneate, lobes 0 or obscure, margins entire, sometimes obscurely crenate-serrate distally, gland-dotted young, veins 1–4 per side (narrowly diverging, exiting beyond widest part of leaf), apex subacute, obtuse, or truncate, usually tapered sharply, abaxial surface slightly pubescent, veins conspicuously pubescent, glabrescent, adaxial often densely pubescent young. Inflorescences 1–3-flowered; branches densely appressed-white-pubescent; bracteoles linear, margins glandular, adaxially short-pubescent. Flowers 16–18 mm diam.; hypanthium densely white-pubescent; sepals narrowly triangular, 4 mm, margins glandular, abaxially sparsely pubescent; petals elliptic or ± circular; anthers cream; styles 3. Pomes yellow to copper-orange or reddish orange, suborbicular, 8 mm diam., pubescent to glabrescent; sepal remnants none or reflexed, sometimes circumscissile; pyrenes 3.
Phenology: Flowering late Feb–Apr; fruiting Jul–Aug.
Habitat: Sand plains, open scrub
Elevation: 0–200 m
Ala., Fla., Ga., N.C., S.C.
Crataegus crocea ranges from southwestern Alabama to central Florida into North Carolina; it is particularly abundant and locally common in Alachua and Marion counties, Florida.
A wide view is taken of Crataegus crocea. The typical form, which represents one pole of variation, has narrowly elliptic leaves perfectly smooth in outline, acute at the apices, the distal margins sometimes finely denticulate and larger leaves slightly incised distally. It is the most distinctive form of the species and is locally common at least in northern Florida. Other forms with similar leaves may be referred to C. frugalis and, if with larger leaves at maturity sometimes slightly incised distally, to C. recurva. Crataegus curva is a form that is somewhat similar to the type but is wider and shorter and has shorter petioles. Often, leaves of C. crocea are wider than the type form and somewhat spatulate; these represent C. villaris and C. incana, the latter with particularly dense tomentum when young. All the foregoing forms intergrade. Forms such as C. adusta Beadle, with more or less spatulate leaves often with strongly crenulate to obscurely lobed leaf apices, are intermediate with C. condigna. They are larger in all their parts than typical C. crocea.
In spite of its variability, there should usually be no difficulty separating Crataegus crocea either from C. munda or from the small-leaved C. condigna, both subser. Tenues, both of which have obviously toothed leaf margins, nor from C. lacrimata with its glabrous inflorescences and more or less eglandular bracteoles. Larger-leaved forms of C. crocea, with spatulate-cuneate blades obscurely crenate-serrate distally, may resemble the C. illudens form of C. lassa (subser. Robustae) from Selma, Alabama; they retain the smaller fruit of C. crocea.
A related, unnamed form known from northern Florida has particularly long petioles, narrowly rhombic-obovate leaf blades (that is, with the lateral vertices nearer the distal end), and more or less entire margins.
Crataegus crocea can form an attractive, delicate shrub, which should be very suitable for xeriscaping.