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Common Hawthorn massive harvest

Incredible crop of Common Hawthorn Berries.


Season: Late Summer & Fall


Urban, Rural or Both: Both, but mainly Rural


Hawthorn Berries (Hawberries) and Mayhaw (Crataegus). There are lots of different Hawthorns in North America. World wide, there are hundreds of them. Many of the Hawthorns you find here are naturalized Hawthorns that came from other parts of the world. Hawthorns are from the same family as Apples and Roses, so it is no big surprise that the easiest way to describe a Hawthorn in general is that it looks like a smaller Apple tree with big thorns and fruit that looks like Rose hips or Crabapples. Be careful, the bigger of the woody thorns can be very dangerous - they are hard, sharp and strong and will go through flesh with ease. There is also a serious danger from the fruit of this tree - THE SEEDS ARE VERY POISONOUS. Never eat a seed - you have to take this seriously.

Hawthorn has been used a long time medicinally for heart conditions. It is now believed that Hawthorn can act as a Beta Blocker similar to Beta Blocker prescription medicines. Because of this, you should be careful about eating Hawthorn berries if you are on such a medicine, as the combined effect might be too strong. A link here for starting further research on this subject. I've also read that it now has been shown to be a heart strengthener, and you do see Hawthorn being sold in the vitamins section of drug stores and health food stores as a cardiac tonic. As I understand from my reading, it is the Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) that is used for that purpose. Whether or not the other Hawthorns you will find in Eastern North America have the same medicinal properties is something I cannot confirm or deny from my research.

There is another introduced Hawthorn from Europe called the Smooth Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata). This one I have read can be treated and used as if it is the Common Hawthorn as it has the same medicinal properites. However, there was no proof offered to back this claim up, so it is a bit up in the air as far as I'm concered. This one and the Common Hawthorn also form hybrids. Below in the descriptions under the Common Hawthorn is a picture of the hybrid.

I have read that people who take digoxin should not eat Hawthorn. I don't know why.

I don't know the edibility of the fruit from the majority of the trees in the Hawthorn Genus. The three trees that form the group known as the Mayhaws do not even grow in my area, so my knowledge of them is limited to what I have read. Most of my familiarity is with the Common Hawthorn, but even then, I don't really try to distinguish between the different Hawthorns from an eating perspective. As far as I'm aware, none of the Hawthorns have fruit that is poisonous (except for the seeds which are very poisonous), but I cannot say if they all are good for eating. Do research on any you find, and experiment with small amounts and see if you like them. I have never encountered a Hawthorn with fruit that was really good tasting, but they are edible, and if cooked right, not bad in small amounts. Even in the past, they have more or less been a food you eat when other crops do poorly, not a first choice food.

If you are gathering them for the medicinal properties, it just makes sense to collect from the Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) since it seems unconfirmed the others have the same properties, or if they do, how comparable the strength of the medicinal properties are from the different types.

As far as cooking with the Common Hawthorn (and I'm guessing most others), you do need to cook it and strain out the very poisonous seeds once they have cooked down - the poison will stay in the seeds when cooking. You could eat them fresh, but there is little there, as the stone (single seed in the Common Hawthorn) takes up a good portion of each Hawberry, and besides, the taste is dull - and - some people report getting stomach aches from eating them raw. I don't, but I only eat two or three raw at a time, and maybe it takes more. Due to the medicinal effect mentioned above, I also suggest only eating small amounts of cooked or fresh Hawthorns at a time. If you have read this book all the way through to this point, you are no doubt aware I try to err on the side of caution.

Basically, after gathering a bunch of them, rub off the ends and stems by rubbing them between your hands, rinse, put in a pot, just cover with water, put in about half as much cider vinegar as water (some people say just use the cider vinegar and no water), and simmer for about 20 minutes until the Hawberries are soft, pour away the water/vinegar, mash up the Hawberries, sieve out all the seeds by pushing the mash through a sieve to capture the seeds, add some lemon juice and a touch of salt, (some sweetener can be used). At this point, if you know how to preserve in jars, you can do that, whereas I just put some in baggies, and freeze, take out one at a time, and use with meals. Personally, I like it as something different to use a little of with mashed potatoes. You could of course, use them to make a jam or jelly. I don't have a sweet tooth, so never bother with that. Since they have little flavor on their own, you could use them just for their pectin content and make jellies and jams for other fruit, and the Hawthorn berries will make them set. By the way, they start to lose their pectin once they get beyond ripe, so use when just ripe.

Recipe search on the web for the Hawthorn here (Google search) and here (Bing search). Don't forget - THE SEEDS ARE VERY POISONOUS.

Recipe search on the web for the Mayhaw here (Google search) and here (Bing search).


Growing this plant in your home garden:

For detailed growing instructions, go to my Wild Foods Home Garden website Hawthorn Tree page.



Descriptions


There are some links below to help you identify a particular Hawthorn you know of. You need to realize, each species itself can be quite variable, and identifying which one you have can be a difficult undertaking. Most have red fruit, but there are also black and yellow fruited Hawthorns. If you do find a black or yellow fruited Hawthorn, start first with the list of the color you have, then check with the BONAP map to see if it grows where you live. This can at least cut down the number of possibilities. After that, use the shape of the leaf. In my experience that helps narrow it down the quickest.


Biota of North America Program (BONAP) distribution map of all the different Hawthorns known in North America here. BONAP map color key here.

List of species of Hawthorn here.

List of Yellow fruit Hawthorn here.

List of Black fruit Hawthorn here.


Because most recipies are for the Common Hawthorn, and because it is also the one used for its cardiac tonic properties, I focus on that one with the most detail for identifying. Below the Common Hawthorn description is information on others you may encounter when looking in the wild.

Because the Common Hawthorn has fruit that is red, just one seed per fruit and leaves with deep cut lobes, this is a fairly easy one to identify. And, since this is the one most people are looking for, it can be a simple matter of, "Yes this is a common Hawthorn", or "No, this can't be a Common Hawthorn, so move on", and not bothering trying to identify further.




Common Hawthorn

Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). Known also as the "One Seed Hawthorn", Single-seeded Hawthorn, Haw, May, Mayblossom, Maythorn, Motherdie, Quickthorn, Whitethorn. Though a native to Europe, Africa and parts of Asia, it has become naturalized in North America. This is the one that was used most often in Europe in past times for food, and most recipes that you find for Hawthorns (not Mayhaws) are referring to the fruit from this one. It is very commonly found in North America, and has been labelled an invasive weed in many places. I know that the name, "Common Hawthorn" is a good one for where I live in Southwestern Ontario. In the alkaline soils in soy and corn farm country here, I have seen this one literally take over and fill abandoned farm fields, or where cattle grazes but the farmers do not cut the grass in their fields. North of London years ago I saw an abandoned farm field (I would guess that was 100 acres) that was a solid mass of full sized Common Hawthorn. This is the Hawthorn that is used medicinally most often.


Description:


Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies.


Common Hawthorn.jpg

Common Hawthorn fruit (Crataegus monogyna) ripe for picking. Note the leaf shape for the Common Hawthorn.


crmo3_001_lvd

Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) drawing. (USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 319.)


crmo3_002_lhp.jpg

Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) seeds. (Steve Hurst, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database)


Crataegus_laevigata_x_monogyna_Blossom.jpg

Hybrid of the Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and the Smooth Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) (listed below) called a Crataegus laevigata x monogyna. The "x" means hybrid or cross. Both of these are introduced to North America, and it not uncommon to find hybrids. Notice the lobes of the leaves are not as deep and sawtooth edged as the Common Hawthorn, but not as shallow and rounded edged as the Smooth Hawthorn. I cannot confirm this is correct with any proof, but I have read the fruit from both of these is the same medicinally. If this is true, you can treat both and their hybrids the same.




Brainerd's Hawthorn

Brainerd's Hawthorn (Crataegus brainerdii):


crbr3_001_lvd

Brainerd's Hawthorn (Crataegus brainerdii) drawing. (USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 303)




Cockspur Hawthorn

Cockspur Hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli):


CRCR2

Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies.


crcr2_001_lvd.jpg

Cockspur Hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli) drawing. (USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 297)

crcr2_005_lhp.jpg

Cockspur Hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli) seeds. (Steve Hurst, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database)


800px-Crataegus_crus-galli_flowers_1

Cockspur Hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli) flowers. (By: Nadiatalent)


800px-Crataegus_crus-galli-2

Cockspur Hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli) fruit and leaves. (By: A.Abrahami CC BY-SA 3.0)





Washington hawthorn

Washington hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum).


CRPH

Washington hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum) range. Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies.


crph_001_lvd

Washington hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum) drawing. (USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 321)


crph_006_lhp

Washington hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum) seeds. (Steve Hurst, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database)


crph_002_lhp

Washington hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum) leaf and fruit. (Robert H. Mohlenbrock, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA SCS. 1991. Southern wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. South National Technical Center, Fort Worth)




Fireberry Hawthorn

Fireberry Hawthorn (Crataegus chrysocarpa). Known also as the Goldenberry Hawthorn as the color of the unripe fruit is golden colored. Ripe fruit is dark red.


CRCHC2.png

Fireberry Hawthorn (Crataegus chrysocarpa) range. Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies.


crch_001_lvd

Fireberry Hawthorn (Crataegus chrysocarpa) drawing. (USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 306)


Crataegus_chrysocarpa_01

Fireberry Hawthorn (Crataegus chrysocarpa). (By: Michael Wolf CC BY-SA 3.0)


Crataegus_chrysocarpa 003

Fireberry Hawthorn (Crataegus chrysocarpa). (By: Matt Lavin Attribution 2.0 Generic)




Green Hawthorn

Green Hawthorn (Crataegus viridis).


Greenhawthorne

Green Hawthorn (Crataegus viridis) range. (By: Strongbad1982 CC BY-SA 3.0)


800px-Crataegus_viridis_'Winter_King'_1

"Winter King" Variety of the Green Hawthorn. (By: Scott Zona Attribution 2.0 Generic)


crvi2_002_lhp

Green Hawthorn (Crataegus viridis) leaf. (Robert H. Mohlenbrock, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA SCS. 1991. Southern wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. South National Technical Center, Fort Worth.)


crvi2_003_lhp

Green Hawthorn (Crataegus viridis) seeds. (Steve Hurst, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database)


crvi2_001_lvd

Green Hawthorn (Crataegus viridis) drawing. (USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 307.)




Dwarf Hawthorn or One-flowered Hawthorn

Dwarf Hawthorn or One-flowered Hawthorn (Crataegus uniflora). Yellow to reddish fruit. Fruit is fuzzy or hairy. Despite the name, it can have more than one flower per cluster. And, again, despite name, is not always a small tree.


Crataegus uniflora.png

Dwarf Hawthorn or One-flowered Hawthorn (Crataegus uniflora). Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies


crun_001_lvd.jpg

Dwarf Hawthorn or One-flowered Hawthorn (Crataegus uniflora) drawing. (USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 320.)




Fleshy Hawthorn

Fleshy Hawthorn (Crataegus succulenta). Also known as the Succulent Hawthorn & Round-fruited Cockspurthorn.


Crataegus succulenta

Fleshy Hawthorn (Crataegus succulenta). Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies


crsu5_001_lvd.jpg

Fleshy Hawthorn (Crataegus succulenta) drawing. (USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 301.)




Dotted Hawthorn

Dotted Hawthorn (Crataegus punctata). Also known as the White Haw.


CRPU

Dotted Hawthorn (Crataegus punctata). Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies


crpu_001_lvd

Dotted Hawthorn (Crataegus punctata) drawing. (USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 300.)


crpu_003_lhp

Dotted Hawthorn (Crataegus punctata) seeds. (Tracey Slotta, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.)


804px-Crataegus_punctata_flowers_2

Dotted Hawthorn (Crataegus punctata) flowers and leaves. (By: Nadiatalent)


800px-Crataegus_punctata_RB4

Dotted Hawthorn (Crataegus punctata) fruit and leaf. (By: Radomil GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)




Smooth Hawthorn

Smooth Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata). Also known as the Midland Hawthorn, English Hawthorn, Woodland Hawthorn Mayflower. This is an introduced tree from Europe. I have read that this one can be used the same way as the Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) for food and medicinally, but there was no proof of that offered. The usual way of distinguishing this one from the Common Hawthorn is by the leaf lobes. The Common Hawthorn has very deep lobes with a very sawtooth margin, while this one has shallow to non-existent lobes and much rounder or smooth margins - hence the name "Smooth" Hawthorn. However, this is complicated because this one is known to form hybrids with the Common Hawthorn making identification between the two very difficult. See the last picture under the Common Hawthorn above to see a picture of a hybrid.


CRLA80

Smooth Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata). Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies


Illustration_Crataegus_laevigata1

Smooth Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) drawing. (By: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany)


1024px-Crataegus_laevigata_001

Smooth Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) flowers and leaves. (By: Meneerke bloem GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)


1024px-Crataegus_laevigata_02

Smooth Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) flowers and leaves - pink variation. (By: Kor!An Корзун Андрей GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)


1024px-Crataegus-laevigata-berries

Smooth Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) fruit and leaves. (By: Sten CC BY-SA 3.0)




Frosted Hawthorn or Waxyfruit Hawthorn

Frosted Hawthorn or Waxyfruit Hawthorn (Crataegus pruinosa).


CRPR2

Frosted Hawthorn or Waxyfruit Hawthorn (Crataegus pruinosa). Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies


crpr2_002_lhp

Frosted Hawthorn or Waxyfruit Hawthorn (Crataegus pruinosa) seeds. (Tracey Slotta, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database)


crpr2_001_lvd

Frosted Hawthorn or Waxyfruit Hawthorn (Crataegus pruinosa) drawing. (USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 315.)


Frosted_Thorn_(2981720487)

Frosted Hawthorn or Waxyfruit Hawthorn (Crataegus pruinosa) leaves and immature fruit taken in early August. (By: Homer Edward Price Attribution 2.0 Generic)




Copenhagen Hawthorn

Copenhagen Hawthorn (Crataegus intricata). Known also as Lange's Thorn and Thicket Hawthorn.


CRIN3

Copenhagen Hawthorn (Crataegus intricata). Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies


800px-Crataegus-intricata-leaves

Copenhagen Hawthorn (Crataegus intricata) leaves. (By: Sten Porse CC BY-SA 3.0)


crst9_001_lvd

Copenhagen Hawthorn (Crataegus intricata) drawing. (USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 308.)


1024px-Crataegus_intricata_fruits

Copenhagen Hawthorn (Crataegus intricata) leaves and fruit. (By: Pipi69e)



The list of Hawthorns is being added to regularly - check back.





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