Hawthorn

Botanical Name: Crataegus spp.

Brief Description and Notes: There are many, many different species of Hawthorn (all with edible berries!). Some are native, some naturalized that came from elsewhere. What they tend to have in common are the red (or sometimes more yellow or orange) haws (berries) in early fall persisting through winter, branches with long thorns, leaves that can vary in serration and lobes, and lots of pale flowers in spring (which are 5-petaled and grow in clusters). They tend to be shrub-like but can sometimes become more tree-height. If you are noticing small trees with clusters of red berries and branches with thorns (be careful!), pull out your identification books to check if it might be Hawthorn. 

Where To Look For It: Shrubby thickets, streams, edges of pastures, hedgerow plantings, street plantings and parks

Ornamental Value: Attractive flowers in spring and colorful berries in fall/winter. Common landscaping tree; can be pruned as a hedge. 

Ecological Value & Roles: Winter food for birds 

Edibility and Other Human Use: Berries are edible and can persist into the winter. DO NOT EAT THE SEEDS THOUGH! Spit them out. Berries are often turned into jam or used medicinally in teas or tinctures. They are clinically indicated for heart problems. The leaves and the flowers also have medicinal properties and lots of folklore attached to them. If foraging, remember to only take a small amount and leave plenty for wildlife. 

 

Information sources:

One Acre Farm

Missouri Botanical Garden