Hawthorn Tree Berries Grown Indoors?

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Sometimes we take native plants for granted and forget about the extraordinary qualities they bring to the landscape. One example is hawthorn with parsley.

Hawthorn Tree Berries Grown Indoors?

My office is located at Hinds Community College, and the campus here is a virtual arboretum. Every tree and bush looks like part of a plan, and the winter color from the berry-producing plants was definitely in the design.

Green Hawthorn Delivers A Brilliant Show Of Berries

For over 12 years I have admired the parsley hawthorns on campus. Botanically speaking, they are Crataegus marshallii, at least according to most references and USDA web sites. Just to keep us on our toes, it was probably changed to Crataegus apifolia.

The name tells you that the leaves look like parsley – not the curly type, but the regular version. In spring, this member of the rose family is showered with a blanket of snow-white flowers with long, delicate-looking stamens covered in pink anthers.

Let me just say they are freaking beautiful and that’s just in the spring. I challenge you to find a small tree with more red berries in the fall and winter than the parsley hawthorn. They are carried by the thousands and make the tree visible from a great distance as the sun shows off their brilliant color.

Birds eat the fruit, but I also noticed that each tree has an upper growth of twigs that is perfect for birds that want to nest. It’s kind of like a one-stop shop for birds – a home and grocery store.

Tips & Information About Hawthorn

Parsley-leaved hawthorn is native from Texas to Florida and as far north as Illinois, Kentucky, and Virginia, with most references suggesting it is hardy from zones 4 or 5 through 9.

The trees have a nice structure, usually with two or three trunks that branch into several skeletons. Older trees have interesting exfoliating bark. They can reach 25 feet tall and 25 feet wide, but most I see are closer to 15 feet tall and not as wide.

It is found in a variety of soils, from acidic to slightly alkaline, and from well-drained to those that are a bit more boggy. If you can find one at a nursery that specializes in natives, choose a planting location with part sun or morning sun and afternoon shade and fertile, well-drained soil. This will provide you with a photo-worthy specimen.

Also know that their water requirement, once established, is considered medium-low. This is nice considering the sparse rainfall we get each year.

Indian Hawthorn Care

While they can certainly stand alone, a location with a backdrop of evergreens makes for an even better show. This is probably one of those situations where opposites attract because the opposite of red is green.

Over the years I’ve told you about great plants from around the world. This time, though, it’s something we drive all the time and take for granted. It’s time to bring some of these natives back into our landscapes, and parsley-leaved hawthorn is definitely one to consider. Hawthorn fruit picking is new to me this year. They are sweet and soft if you pick them at the right time, and in recent years I have tried them too early in the fall. This year the Washington hawthorn was sweet and mild in late October. But by this time the single-seeded hawthorns are starting to rot, so next year I’ll be looking for them in mid-October.

I credit Josh Fecteau’s recent hawthorn post with inspiring me to try hawthorn berries again. As Josh points out, there are many species of hawthorn, maybe 50 in New England. And in all of North America, probably a thousand species, according to George Symonds (from his wonderful book Tree Identification Book: A New Method for Practical Tree Identification and Recognition

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

Pdf) The Indian Hawthorn

Why 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 that yet. Fruits, leaves and flowers can be used to make tea. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see how I make hawthorn fruit extract.

I will describe two types here to illustrate the general characteristics. This should help you recognize a hawthorn when you see one, but I

If you are unsure that you have hawthorn when foraging, please check with additional sources until you CONFIRM before eating the fruit.

This grows as a small tree or large shrub and bears white flowers in late spring. Fruits turn red in September (here) but sweeten later. By October 31st they were sweet and maybe just past peak. Each berry has 3-5 seeds.

Science Backed Hawthorn Berry Benefits

The leaves are jagged and jagged as you can see in my photo above. Many other species of hawthorn have similar leaves. The tree is heavily armed with long spines, up to about 3 inches in length. However, with reasonable care, you can easily pick the fruit that tends to hang far from the branch. It’s even easier later in the season, after many of the leaves have fallen and are no longer covering the thorns.

Also called common hawthorn, it is a European native plant that escaped cultivation and naturalized in North America. It is sometimes classified as an invasive plant, but I don’t find it very often, and when I do, there isn’t much of it 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 bears white blooms in late spring. The oval red berries ripen slightly earlier (than the Washington Hawthorn) in the fall and contain one seed (hence the name). The toothed leaves are more toothed than those of Washington hawthorn, but the spines are much smaller, only about 1/2 inch to one inch long.

Hawthorns are common in the woods here in Massachusetts, but they are scrawny specimens that don’t fruit well. It’s too shady in the forest. To find fruit-filled hawthorns, look for sunny spots such as scrub fields and thickets, along pasture edges and along streams. They are often planted as ornamentals, so if your friend has one and doesn’t mind picking 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 proof vodka and sealed the jar. I’m not sure how long it will take to get enough flavor out of the fruit, so I’ll be checking it daily. I know other extracts (like vanilla extract) take weeks, so that’s what I’m expecting 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 bumped inside on one of several botanic trips (all my trips are botanic, after all) in various wet situations.

How To Grow And Care For Hawthorn

I’ve also been known to paddle around in a kayak on a cold winter’s day, which isn’t usually my style as I’m much more of a fan of summer, however hot it gets. However, even I will admit that there is something to be said for looking at the wonderful world around us on one of these short, slow days.

So, I was recently swimming in the waters of an oak lake connected to our very own Congaree River here in central South Carolina on a partly cloudy and cool January afternoon. Most of the greenery is long gone, of course, although there are some fairly scattered evergreens in the swamp. So the kayaker is largely faced with a continuous and varied palette of grays and browns, the floodplain trees are bare. And then, suddenly, this!

I have to tell you that I kind of gasped when we rounded a corner and then this lovely bush – a small tree – actually popped out in front of our eyes. It looked like it was on fire, standing out from the gray around it. I have to say too