Do Hawthorn Berries Grow In North America

Do Hawthorn Berries Grow In North America – Harvesting hawthorn berries is new to me this year. They are sweet and mild if you get them at the right time, and in past years I have enjoyed them very early in the fall. This year the Washington hawthorn was sweet and mild in late October. But by then the single-seeded hawthorns were starting to rot, so next year I’ll be looking for them in mid-October.

I take some credit for Josh Fecteau’s recent hawthorn post for inspiring me to give hawthorn berries another try. As Josh points out, there are many species of hawthorn, perhaps as many as 50 in New England. and, in all of North America, perhaps a thousand species, according to George Symonds (from his excellent book Tree Identification: A New Method for Practical Tree Identification and Identification

Do Hawthorn Berries Grow In North America

, my favorite guide to learning tree ID). Fortunately, you don’t need to identify specific species. You just need to know it’s hawthorn because all hawthorns have edible berries. However, like apple seeds, hawthorn seeds contain cyanide and should not be eaten. If you follow the panic; Just spit out the seeds.

Hawthorn (crataegus) Extract

Why bother hawthorn? They are beautiful, interesting and delicious wild foods with known health benefits. Some people use the berries to make hawthorn jelly, but I haven’t tried it yet. The berries, leaves and flowers can be used to make tea. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see how I make hawthorn berry extract.

I am going to describe two species here, with examples of general characteristics. This will help you recognize hawthorn when you see it, but ie

If you are not sure if you have hawthorn in your forage, please check additional sources until you are sure before eating the berries.

It grows as a small tree or large shrub and bears white flowers in late spring. Berries turn red in September (here), but are delicious later. By October 31st they were sweet and maybe a little past their peak. Each berry has 3-5 seeds.

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The leaves are lobed and toothed, as you can see in my photo above. Many other species of hawthorn have similar leaves. The tree is heavily armed with long thorns, up to about 3 inches long. However, with reasonable care, you can easily pick berries that hang off the branches. This is even easier the following season after many of the leaves have fallen and are no longer shading the thorns.

Also called common hawthorn, it is a European native that escaped cultivation and naturalized in North America. It is sometimes listed as an invasive plant, but I don’t find it often, and when I do, there aren’t many in one area. It may be invasive in other parts of the country, but it doesn’t seem to be particularly aggressive here. Like Washington hawthorn, single-seeded hawthorn grows as a shrub or small tree and produces clusters of white flowers in late spring. The oval red berries ripen slightly earlier in the fall (than Washington hawthorn) and contain one seed (hence the name). The serrated leaves are deeper than those of Washington hawthorn, but the spines are much smaller, only 1/2 inch to 1 inch long.

Hawthorns are common in the Massachusetts forest understory, but they are ugly specimens that do not bear fruit well. It is very shady in the forest. To find fruit-laden hawthorn, look in sunny areas such as scrubby fields and hedgerows, at the edges of pastures and along streams. They are often planted as ornamentals, so if your friend has one and doesn’t mind picking the berries, you 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 would 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 them with 80 shots of vodka, and closed the jar with a lid. I’m not sure how long it will take to extract enough flavor from the berries, so I check it daily. I know other extracts (like vanilla extract) take weeks, so I’m waiting for that here. Those of you who are regular readers of this little column will probably know that I’m no stranger to kayaking and that I’ve been in one on several botanic excursions (all my excursions end in a botanist) in various wet situations.

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I’ve also been known to kayak on a cold winter day, which isn’t usually my style as I’m more into summer, which can be hot. Still, I’ll admit there’s something to be said for taking a look at the beautiful world around us on one of these short, happy days.

So I’m just floating on the waters of Oxbow Lake, connected to our very own Congar River here in central South Carolina, on a partly cloudy and cool January afternoon. Most of the foliage, of course, is long gone, although there are quite a few scattered evergreens in the marsh. Thus, the kayaker is faced with a continuous and varied palette of mostly grays and browns, the floodplain trees bare. And then, suddenly, this!

I have to tell you that I kind of breathed a sigh of relief when we rounded the bend and then this lovely bush…small tree, actually…came into view. It almost looked like it was on fire, standing out from the surrounding darkness. Also, I must tell you in advance that this is a local species of hawthorn – green hawthorn,

All of the world’s hawthorns (sometimes simply called “hawthorns”) belong to the genus Crataegus, and there are several hundred species around the northern hemisphere, including North America. They occupy a wide variety of habitats and many provide an important food source for wildlife as well as ornamental value.

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Green hawthorn is a fairly common native of southern swamps and floodplains from Pennsylvania to Arkansas and Texas, and then north to Florida. Stems are often spiny on older individuals.

All hawthorns are quite leafy. This leaf has broadly elliptic leaves, but the shape is variable and many leaves will be strongly lobed. The blades are serrated at the edges and all the leaves will die and disappear in the new year.

The flowers are really attractive, snow white when fully open and appear in late spring. All hawthorns have perfect flowers, that is, pollen and ovules are produced in the same flower. The flowers are densely packed, each with five petals.

After fertilization, a young fruit develops. During the long growing season, the fruit grows and swells, each containing 3-5 seeds. The ripe fruit will be what we call a “pome”, essentially like a miniature apple or pear. (or Pirakanta.)

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At some point, the fetal skin cells begin to secrete red pigments. A mass of ripe fruit crammed on the branches can be an amazing sight. I hope you find some excitement before the birds eat them.

John Nelson is curator of the A. C. Moore Herbarium at the University of South Carolina, Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia SC 29208. As a public service, the Herbarium offers free plant identification. For more information, visit or call 803-777-8196 or email [email protected] English hawthorn is a deciduous small tree or large shrub of the Rosaceae (rose) family. Although it was introduced to North America in the 1800s, it has only recently become a problem on the West Coast. Hawthorn branches have many strong thorns and its bark is smooth, pale and grey. The leaves are alternate, leathery and deeply lobed. The flowers grow in clusters of 10-20, are white with a pink tinge and have 5 petals. The plant also has clusters of one-seeded red berries. The seeds are widely dispersed by birds.

English hawthorn is similar in appearance to the native black hawthorn. The leaves of black hawthorn are only faintly lobed, and the fruit is black rather than bright red.

English hawthorn grows in many soil types, but seems to prefer moist disturbed sites. In its native range it often grows as an understory forest species. Here in Oregon, it grows in coastal areas, grasslands, forests, woodlands and abandoned fields. Once established, it can survive moderate drought conditions

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English hawthorn can grow into thorn bushes, suppressing native vegetation and making it difficult for wildlife to move around. It also hybridizes with native hawthorn, which can reduce native hawthorn populations and create a weedier, more competitive variety. Birds may prefer its berries to native berry plants, which may reduce native plant regeneration. Here is a favorite fruit that appears in Lebanon around the month of August; There are clearly more in North America