Hawthorne, a member of the rose family, grows as a shrub or a tree reaching 15 to 45 feet tall. The bark and branches are light brown and the wood is very hard. It has been prized historically for making a variety of tools. Sharp thorns ranging from 1/2 inch to 1 inch long are found along the branches. The oval-shaped leaves grow around 1 to 1 1/2 inches long with three heavy lobes. The white flowers bloom from April to June depending on location. The flowers have five white petals and many stamens. The flowers grow in clusters and are about 1 cm in diameter. During the summer the flowers mature into green berries that slowly ripen, turning darker and darker shades of red into the fall. The berries, minus the seeds, are frequently used for jams and jellies.
History and Folklore:
The ancient Greeks and Romans used hawthorn in marriage and birth ceremonies. In Christian tradition, hawthorn is associated with the crown of thorns worn by Jesus and the wood from which the staff of Joseph of Arimathea was made. In Arabic culture, Hawthorn has been long associated with death and was used in funeral pyres. In Serbia, it was said to be a good wood for vampire-killing stakes. The “haw” part of the name means hedge. Hawthorne literally translates to thorny hedge.
Cultivation and Harvest:
Harvest the flowering branches in the spring if you’re making fresh tinctures. If drying, discard the stems and spines (thorns). Harvest the berries in the fall before the first frost.
Do not take if pregnant or nursing. Hawthorn herb should not be used with people who have diastolic congestive heart failure. Not for use in people who are taking heart medications such as digitalis and beta blockers. Do not eat the seeds contained within the berries as they contain cyanide.
Traditional Herbal Actions:
Amphoteric, Astringent, Cardiotonic, Diuretic, Antioxidant, Hypnotic, Nervine
Curly-top Gumweed, Curlycup Gumweed
Crataegus chrysocarpa, C. columbiana, C. douglasii, C. crythropoda, C. oxyacantha, C. rivularis
Ingredients: Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)
None of these items or statements are approved by FDA. Consult your physician before taking any supplement. Do not take herbs or tinctures during pregnancy without consulting your healthcare provider. This product is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. All information here is for entertainment and educational purposes only.
*This statement has not been verified by the FDA and is only referenced here as a fun fact and/or for historical commentary, is not to be used as medical advice in any way. Consult your doctor before ingesting any herbal product.