Common and folk names
- • Mayblossom
- • Maythorn
- • Quickthorn
- • Whitethorn
- • Motherdie
- • Haw
Parts of Plants Used
Dark green= the most popular and common use
- Stem Bark
The Common Hawthorn is a shrub, 5 to14 metres tall, with a dense crown, in the family Rosaceae. The bark is dull brown with vertical orange cracks. The younger stems contain sharp thorns, 1 to 1.5 cm long. The leaves are 2 to 4 cm long, teardrop shaped and deeply lobed, sometimes almost to the central vein, with the lobes spreading at a wide angle. The upper surface is dark green above and paler underneath.
The hermaphrodite flowers are produced in late spring in clusters of 5 to 25 together. Each flower has five white petals, numerous red stamens and a single style. They are moderately fragrant. The “haw” is a small, oval, dark red fruit, about 1 cm long, berry like but structurally a pome containing a single seed.
It is native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia. It has been introduced in many other parts of the world where it is an invasive species.
- Used to treat arteriosclerosis and nervous heart problems
- Used to prevent degeneration of blood vessels
- Used to increase the blood flow to the heart muscles
- Used to maintains normal heart beat
- Used to reduce high cholesterol
- Used to improve the functioning of the digestive system
- Used to soothe anxiety
- Used to soften menstrueal disorders
- Used to enhance poor memory
- Used to support the treatment of malaria and other fevers
- jellies, jams, and preserves
- syrups and sweet puddings (flowers)
- flavouring alcoholic beverages (wine and brandy)
- leaves used in salads
- ground fruit added to bread making
- roasted seeds as coffee substitute
- berry: herbal supplement in capsules
- leaf and flower: alcohol-free extract
- berry: heart syrup
- berry: tea
- walking sticks, tool handles, engraving and all wood-turned items
- wood as fuel
- charcoal made from the wood
- ornamental use
- Rows of Hawthorn bushes have been used for thousands of years as a natural barrier to fence in (or out) animals and even people.
- The Hawthorn is also known as the May, after the month when it starts to blossom.
- In Medieval England, the start of summer was celebrated by a festival which included the erection of maypoles decorated with May blossoms.
- It was considered bad luck to take sprigs of hawthorn indoors as it signalled impending death in the household.
- Legend has it that bathing in the dew of a Hawthorn will bring eternal beauty to the bather.
- An ancient Hawthorn is thought to be oldest tree of any species in France. It grows alongside the church at Saint Mars sur la Futaie, Mayenne.
- A famous Hawthorn in Glastonbury, England reputedly sprouted from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea after he thrust it into the ground in the first century AD. The tree was chopped down in the 1640s during the English Civil War.
- The Hawthorn has been regarded as the emblem of hope in ancient times.
- Hawthorn branches were carried by the ancient Greeks in wedding processions.
- Serbian and Croatian folklore claims that Hawthorn is particularly deadly to vampires, and stakes used for their slaying must be made from its wood.