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.



Liked it? Share!

8 thoughts on “Hawthorn

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

Leave a Comment