Hawthorn berries on tree (Crataegus monogyna)

Table of Contents

Hawthorn: Plant profile

Common names

Hawthorn, thornapple, May-tree, whitethorn

Botanical name

Crataegus monogyna


Rosaceae (Rose)

Geographicale distribution

Native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia. Very common everywhere in Ireland and the UK, except north of Scotland.

Where to find Hawthorn

Hedgerows and parks.

When to find Hawthorn

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.

Culinary uses and recipes with Hawthorn

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.

Medicinal properties of Hawthorn

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.



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Alvaro Docio

Alvaro Docio

I am the person behind British Local Food. I want to inspire you to go outdoors, familiarise with your local plants and make the best of their culinary and medicinal properties.

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24 thoughts on “Hawthorn”

    • Hi Laura,
      Midland hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) have thorns too.
      It’s only certain hawthorn cultivars that do not have thorns, such as C. Crusgalli var. Inermis, a popular ornamental landscape tree.

  1. I need to get my blood pressure down I don’t take any blood pressure tablets. I always eat fruit for my breakfast. With weetabix. I have a hedge of Hawthorn. Can I chew the leaves as new leaves are forming. I don’t know the amount to use. For the berries, I have been told not to eat the pips.

    • Hi Mary,
      The leaves are best eaten in Spring when the new growth starts to emerge. Afterwards, the leaves get tougher and unpalatable.
      The berries are edible but the seeds are not; best made into jams and jellies or infused in alcoholic drinks, such as vodka or brandy.
      I am sorry I cannot give any medical advice, as I am not qualified for that.

    • You can make a decoction with the berries (boil up the berries in water to make a tea) about a tablespoon of fresh, half of dried, per cup. They’re pretty safe so as much as you like really though maybe start with one cup and build up to see how it affects you x

  2. Do you know if the leaves and flowers are edible on the Double Pink Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata)? The leaves are pretty much identical to Crataegus monogyna, but the flowers are very different.

    • Hi Hugh,
      Both leaves and flowers are edible on the midland Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) and the cultivar hybrids (Crataegus × media). That includes double pink flowering hawthorn.

  3. Thanks for this beautiful article. Can you eat raw hawthorn blossom? Or do you need to heat it? I was going to use it in salad and on top of a cake for decoration. Is it just flowers or is the stalk edible too? Thank you! ?

    • Hi Melissa,
      The flowers are edible raw. I would recommend to use the leaf buds or young leaves for a salad and the flowers for decoration purposes as you mentioned, or to make tea or a cordial. Don’t bother with the stalks, as the flavour is in the flower.

  4. I harvested some berries to make into a tincture tomorrow (Equinox), but I heard today that they shouldn’t be harvested until the first frost, when the tree fills the berries (or tree seeds) with optimum goodness. Could I still make a tincture, or would it be medicinally ineffective?

    Also have you information on the energetic properties of crataegus?

    Kind regards

    • Hi Amanda,
      As long as the fruit is red and ripe, it’s ready to use.
      In the past, people would wait until the first frost when foraging for berries, because the frost has the effect of both breaking the skins of the fruit and make them release the natural sugars. Luckily, we can replicate the effect with freezers nowadays, so you do not need to wait that long!

  5. I love foraging, but I don’t do much maybe in the local park for elderberries. I hate to waste things that are natural gifts. At the moment I want to find some fresh Hawthorne berries, I’d even try the leaves for tea.
    I just feel such satisfaction from picking these things from scratch.
    My problem is that I don’t know where to find Hawthorne , oh I know that they’re not ready yet, but I’d like to find them.
    I would like to join a foraging group but I have a back problem which affects my ankle …I where a brace. So it depends on where I walk.

    • Hi Beverley. The best time to spot hawthorn is around May, when the trees are in full bloom. Beautiful white flowers easy to see from the distance. Otherwise, just keep your eyes peeled, hawthorn is a very common tree, easily found all over the UK and Ireland in every corner!

    • Hope this one helps, Kathy:

      -Hawthorn ketchup recipe-
      Put 500 g berries in a pan with 300 ml vinegar and 300ml water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until soft and squishy. Sieve pips / skins and add 170g sugar to the puree. Bring to the boil and simmer for another 5 min. Finally, bottle and seal.


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