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Hawthorn

Edible Edible Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer

A very common and healthy plant to forage from.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Hawthorn, May, Maythorn, Whitethorn
Scientific Name Crataegus monogyna/laevigata
Season Start Mar
Season End Nov
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Leaves

Deeply lobed and a bit darker green on the top surface of the leaf.

Flowers

Small, white, with five petals and an almondy smell. Flowers from May to June.

 

Fruit

The orange to deep red berries, typically with one stone although there can be more in some species or hybrids, hang in clusters in the Autumn.

Stem

The smaller thin branches have very sharp thorns.

Trunk

Older mature Hawthorns are more like trees than shrubs and have gnarled, twisted trunks.

Habitat

Hedgerows, woodland, waste ground and planted in urban areas.

Possible Confusion

With its distinctive leaves it is quite hard to confuse this plant with any other.

Smell

The flowers have a bitter almond or marzipan smell.

Taste

The berries taste a bit like a slightly over ripe apple.

Frequency

Common.

Collecting

The leaves can be collected in Spring for use in salads or at any time for teas.

The petals can be used for salads.

The berries are best after a frost in Autumn but as frosts appear later and later try the berries, they are ready when sweet. We also have freezers now so the berries can be ‘bletted’ (frozen) artificially.

Medicinal Uses

All parts of the hawthorn are good for regulating  blood pressure but the leaves are reported as the best and used to make a tea.

Other Facts

The Hawthorn has a few different species and many hybrids growing in the UK but the most common is monogyna followed by the Midland Hawthorn, laevigata. Both can grow as a bush like shrub or more like a tree with monogyna usually being more upright.
The berries contain a large amount of pectin and are a great addition to jellies and jams to help them set. The berries make a fine jelly on their own and just the juice, made by crushing the berries in the hands and sieving them, will set very quickly with no heat. If the berries are very sweet no sugar is needed, if not just add a little sugar to taste.
Hawthorn makes a particularly secure barrier that is quite impenetrable to humans and large animals.

COMMENTS

4 comments for Hawthorn

  1. Nicholas Cameron says:

    What is the best way to prepare the leaves to avoid destroying any of the benefits for the heart? I don’t know much about preparations and what will be best for this particular plant.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      I’m really not sure, many people make a tea with them but eating them fresh in a salad shouldn’t destroy any health benefits.

  2. Michael Roast says:

    Can the berries be eaten raw without any cooking? Or must they be cooked before eating?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      The berries are perfectly safe raw but they are mostly stone with a thin covering of flesh. To make the most of them raw crush the berries with your hands or a potato masher and sieve the resulting mixture. This mixture will set like jelly rather quickly so can be used to make leathers or set other fruit mixes.

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