Can You Eat Hawthorn Tree Berries – Hawthorn berry harvesting is a new one for me this year. They are sweet and mild if you get them at the right time, and in years past I have enjoyed them as early as fall. This year, Washington Hawthorn was sweet and mild in late October. But by then, the single-seeded hawthorn had started to rot, so next year I’ll look for mid-October.
I owe it to Josh Fecteau’s recent hawthorn post that inspired me to try hawthorn berries again. As Josh pointed out, New England has many species of hawthorn, perhaps 50. Also, across North America, perhaps a thousand species, according to George Symonds (in his wonderful book Tree Identification Book: A New Method for the Practical Identification and Identification of Trees
Can You Eat Hawthorn Tree Berries
, my favorite guide to learning Tree ID). Fortunately, you don’t need to be able to identify specific species. You need to know it’s a hawthorn because all hawthorns have edible berries. However, like apple seeds, hawthorn seeds contain cyanide and should not be eaten. Don’t panic; Just spit out the seed.
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Why bother with Hawthorne? They are beautiful, interesting and delicious wild edibles with known health benefits. Some people use the berries to make hawthorn jelly, but I have never tried it. The berries, leaves, and flowers can be used to make tea. Scroll down the page to see how I make hawthorn berry extract.
I am going to describe two species here to illustrate common characteristics. It helps you recognize a hawthorn when you see it, but I
If you’re not sure you have hawthorn when foraging, check more sources before eating the berries until you’re sure.
It grows as a small tree or large shrub, bearing clusters of white flowers in late spring. Berries turn red in September (here), but then become sweet. By October 31st, they were sweet, maybe a little past their peak. Each berry has 3-5 seeds.
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As you can see in my photo above the leaves are lobed and toothed. Many other hawthorn species have similar leaves. The tree is heavily armed with long thorns up to about 3 inches long. However, with reasonable caution, you can easily harvest the berries that hang from the branch. It is easier later in the season when many leaves have fallen and the thorns are not covered.
Also known as common hawthorn, it is a European native that escaped cultivation and naturalized in North America. It’s sometimes labeled as an invasive plant, but I don’t find it very often, and when I do see it, there aren’t many of it in one area. Maybe it’s aggressive in other parts of the country, but it doesn’t seem particularly aggressive here. Like Washington hawthorn, single-seeded hawthorn grows as a shrub or small tree, bearing clusters of white flowers in late spring. The oval red berries ripen slightly earlier in fall (than Washington Hawthorn) and contain a single seed (hence the name). The toothed leaves are deeper than Washington hawthorn leaves, but the spines are much shorter, only about 1/2 inch to one inch long.
Hawthorns are common on the forest floor here in Massachusetts, but they are scrawny specimens that don’t fruit well. It is very shady in the forest. To find fruiting hawthorns, look in sunny areas such as shrubby fields, brambles, pasture edges, and streams. They’re often planted as ornamentals, so if your friend has one and you don’t mind picking a few berries, you’ll have an easy foraging experience at your fingertips.
This is my first experience using hawthorn berries and I use them to make an extract using the same process you use to make vanilla extract. I hope to use hawthorn extract as a flavoring in cooking and baking. I filled a clean canning jar about 3/4 full with berries, covered it with 80 proof vodka, and sealed the jar. I’m not sure how long it will take to extract enough flavor from the berries, so I’ll check it daily. I know other extracts (like vanilla extract) take weeks, so that’s what I’m hoping for here. Hawthorn fossils found in the 1990s date back to the mid-Miocene era, 15 million years ago. The Geological Survey found these fossils in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Hawthorn Berry Health Benefits And How To Use
Hawthorn is the most popular species from the Central Asian and European groups with about 100 species. Most often, it grows as a trunk tree, which gives off an unpleasant smell with flowers. The berries it bears are commonly used in various herbal preparations. They are also considered a nutritious food source.
Hawthorn fruit is oblong, pear or round in shape. Berries are usually the same size as large cultivated blueberries. Depending on its specific species, the colors of the berries can range from scarlet, orange-yellow, blue, black or yellow. Its flesh is very similar to rose flesh – dry and fleshy.
Although hawthorn berries are not directly classified as poisonous, there are some cases where they can cause some adverse effects when consumed. Fruit seeds
The family is best known for containing the compound amygdalin, which is basically a cyanide bound to a sugar. When it is ingested, the mixture turns into hydrogen cyanide as it travels to the small intestine.
What Can I Do With Hawthorn Berries?
The lowest lethal dose of hydrogen cyanide reported in humans was 0.54 mg/kg of body weight. The average amount absorbed at the time of death is estimated to be 1/4 mg hydrogen cyanide per kg body weight.
If you weigh 70 kg, your minimum lethal dose would be 37.8 mg, or about 54 grams of crushed apple seeds (the amygdalin needs to be crushed to expose it to the enzymes). That means you should avoid eating crushed 66 apple seeds. I’d say it’s pretty easy to do.
Like apples, when eating hawthorn berries, it is best to spit out the seeds. An adult who accidentally eats a few of its seeds should have no problems. However, for children, the adverse effects are likely to be more pronounced.
The flesh of the fruit itself is not poisonous. However, there are cases where people have reported unpleasant side effects.
Red Wild Hawthorn Berries On The Branches. Hawthorn, Hawthorn Fruit, Hawthorn Berries Stock Photo
In the spring, most people gather the leaves before they change color and use them for salads. The same can be done with its flower petals. Berries are generally tastier after frost, but they can also be used before frost.
Berries can be used in making jellies and jams. They are also added to baked goods. The berries, flowers, and leaves are used to make tea; Many people use hawthorn tea when making couscous, quinoa or rice.
There are a host of medicinal benefits that one can get by consuming hawthorn berry. That is why its supplement forms are used to treat a variety of ailments.
In particular, hawthorn supplements are used for ailments related to the heart and circulatory system. However, these supplements may not be effective in treating severe forms of related conditions.
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Berries in tea form are beneficial in lowering and controlling blood pressure. The naturally high content of pectin makes it ideal for making jelly. Although the berries do not have a particularly pleasant taste when eaten whole, they are often mixed with a variety of other fruits in making wine or pies. By Ariane Lang, BSc, MBA, SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD — Kathy W. Warwick, RD, CDE, Nutrition, Clinically Reviewed — Updated December 13, 2021
These nutrient-rich berries have a tart, sour taste and a mild sweetness. They are yellow to dark red in color (
For hundreds of years, people have used hawthorn berries as a remedy for digestive problems, heart problems, and high blood pressure. In fact, at least 659 A.D. The berry has been an important part of traditional Chinese medicine since (
Antioxidants help neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals that can harm your body at high levels.
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Free radicals can occur from certain foods. You can get high levels of them as a result of exposure to environmental toxins such as air pollution and cigarette smoke (
Although preliminary research in animals and cells is promising, more human studies are needed to evaluate the effects of hawthorn berries on disease risk.
Summary Hawthorn berries contain plant polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties and have been linked to numerous health benefits.
Washington Hawthorn Tree For Sale
Research has found that chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and some cancers.
In a study in mice with liver disease, hawthorn berry extract significantly reduced levels of inflammatory compounds and reduced liver function.