Common name: Hawthorn, thornapple, May-tree, whitethorn
Botanical name: Crataegus monogyna
Family: Rosaceae (Rose)
Worldwide distribution: Native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia.
Local distribution: Very common everywhere in Ireland and the UK, except north of Scotland.
Habitat: Hedgerows and parks.
Foraging season: Leaves and flowers early to mid-spring and berries early to mid-autumn.
The humble hawthorn is one of the most magical and enchanted trees of Britain’s hedgerows. There are so many traditions and folklore associated with it that is considered a fairy tree amongst hedge witches.
This omnipresent tree enliven the countryside with its heady and dazzling May blossom that develops into shiny red berries in autumn, just when the tree starts to shed its leaves.
Young shoots and unopened flower buds were once known as ‘bread and cheese’. Though much healthier, they taste of neither.
The berries, known as haws, are much like mild apples but the flesh is quite dense and dry. These make good jelly to eat with cheese and a great ketchup substitute. They have also been used in the production of country wines and homemade schnapps.
Haws are one of the most scientifically validated of our herbal medicines and are a restorative for the heart and circulation thus it helps to regulate heartbeat and high blood pressure. Seek professional advice before self-medicating.