Indian Hawthorn – Qantas Amazing Australia

Indian Hawthorn – Qantas Amazing Australia

Recently on the show Don featured an enormous Indian Hawthorn (about 5m or 15′ tall). He issued the challenge to find a larger one. This specimen, from Wallsend on the central coast of New South Wales, was an extremely old plant which had developed a tree-like size and spread. Indian hawthorn is more usually seen as a small, flowering shrub around 2m (6′) tall.


Common name: Indian hawthorn

Botanical name: Rhaphiolepis indica (also spelt as Raphiolepis ). A common error with this plant is the mispronunciation of its name. The genus name is Rhaphiolepis, not Raphiolepsis. The name is derived from two Greek words, ‘rhapis’ meaning ‘a needle’ and ‘lepis’ which means ‘a scale’. The name refers to slender bracts at the base of each flower.
This plant is a member of the rose family, Rosaceae. Several other species are also known in cultivation including R. x delacourii.

  • Cultivars: There are many named cultivars. Seek a named cultivar if a compact shrub is needed.
  • ‘Ballerina’ – grows only 60cm (2′) tall with white or pink flowers. A good choice for a potted shrub or a low growing border or hedge.
  • ‘Springtime’ – vigorous cultivar with rose pink flowers. May grow to 2m (6′).
  • ‘Enchantress’ – compact shrub with bronze green foliage. Fast growing to 1 x 1m (3×3′). This shrub is covered with rich pink flowers from early spring until autumn. Also suited to use in a pot or as a low hedge.

Best climate (see climate map): The Indian hawthorn comes from Southern China (not India as its name suggests) and grows in all but the hottest and driest parts of Australia. It thrives as far north as Brisbane in the subtropics.

Description: It is a dense, evergreen shrub or small tree (usually 2-3m or 6-10′ tall), with flower colours ranging from white to deep pink.

The Indian hawthorn is normally a low growing shrub with mid-green, slightly serrated leathery leaves. The five-petalled flowers are sweetly perfumed. Blue-black berries appear on the shrub after flowering. For best flower colour or for a compact plant, look for named varieties such as ‘Ballerina’.


hedging (small to large hedges)
specimen shrub
tub plant especially in exposed position
salt tolerant, so useful for a coastal garden

Growing requirements:

Full sun except in extremely hot climates where it prefers a semi-shaded position.
Frost hardy during winter season (will tolerate temperatures to -10deg.C).
Prefers a well-drained fertile soil but will tolerate poorer conditions provided soil is watered in summer.
Flowers mainly in spring but flowers seen at other times of the year including autumn.

Tip: To keep your shrub even more compact pinch out the tips each year immediately after flowering.

Getting started:

Plants, particularly named cultivars, are readily available at garden centres, with prices varying according to plant size.
May be grown from seed but seedlings can be difficult to raise. Alternatively take semi-ripe cuttings during late summer (when the new growth has become firm).