Hawthorn

hawthorn berriesHawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) is a member of the Rosaceae or rose family. It’s native to most of Europe, North Africa and West Asia. Common Hawthorn is also known as English hawthorn, May blossom and one seed Hawthorn.

It’s a thorny shrub or small tree with smooth, pale gray bark. They grow to be between 10 and 20 feet in height with a single trunk.

Growing Tips
Botanical name: Crataegus monogyna
USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8
Sun exposure: Full sun

Hawthorn leaves are deeply lobed, and the stems have sharp spines. The spines grow from the same point as the flower buds. The leaves on this deciduous plant turn yellow in autumn.

Hawthorns are hermaphrodite. This means that both the male and female reproductive parts are contained within each flower. The white flowers with a pink tint are highly scented, have five petals, and grow in flat-topped clusters. Each cluster contains between 10 and 20 flowers. Most people find their scent to be unpleasant. Pollinated flowers produce deep-red fruits known as ‘haws’.

Hawthorn is a great plant to add to your landscape because it supports over 300 types of insects. It’s a food source for the caterpillars of numerous moths. The haws are rich in antioxidants. They’re a favorite of many migrating birds and small mammals. Its dense, thorny foliage makes a safe shelter for many species of nesting birds. It is also commonly grown as a hedge plant because the thorns make it difficult to pass through.

Hawthorn grows best in lowland areas in moist soils or in areas with high precipitation. Established trees can survive moderate drought conditions.
It is classified as a noxious weed in Oregon and Washington states. You may not want to add common hawthorn to your landscape if you live in this region of the country. It produces numerous seeds and can form dense thickets which crowd out other understory plants.

hawthorn plant in winterHarvest
The young leaves, flower buds and young flowers of hawthorn trees are all edible. They can be eaten raw and added to salads. If eaten raw, the fruits or haws may cause a mild upset stomach. They are typically used to make jellies, wines and ketchups.

Hawthorn is a pagan symbol of fertility and has ancient associations with May Day. In medieval times, people associated the scent of hawthorn blossom with the Great Plague. Botanists later discovered that the blossom contain the chemical trimethylamine which is one of the first chemicals formed in decaying animal tissue.

Note
When used as directed, Airmid’s Harvest salad dressing blends do not contain enough hawthorn berry or any other herb to produce any medicinal benefits. My products and this herb profile are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition.
Please consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.

For more details, visit the post about growing hawthorn on my gardening blog, The Farmer’s Garden.

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