Hawthorn Without Berries – It is a new thing for me to pick the blackberries this year. They are sweet and mild if you get them at the right time, and in past years I have tasted them in early autumn. This year, the Washington thistle was sweet and mild in late October. But by then, single-seeded thorns were starting to rot, so next year I’ll look for those in mid-October.
I credit Josh Fecteau’s recent hawthorn post, which inspired me to try hawthorn berries again. As Josh says, there are many species of thorn, maybe 50 in New England. And, in all of North America, perhaps a thousand species, according to George Symonds (from his wonderful book Tree Identification: A New Method for Practical Tree Identification and Identification
Hawthorn Without Berries
, my favorite guide to learning tree ID). Fortunately, you don’t need to be able to identify specific species. You must know it is a thorn, because all thorns have edible berries. However, like apple seeds, hawthorn seeds contain cyanide, and should not be eaten. Don’t be afraid; just pluck out the seeds.
Red Wild Hawthorn Berries On The Branches. Hawthorn, Hawthorn Fruit, Hawthorn Berries Stock Photo
Why are you worried about thorns? They are beautiful, interesting and tasty wild edibles with known health benefits. Some people use the berries to make brown jelly, but I haven’t tried this yet. Berries, leaves and flowers can be used to make tea. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see how I make a section of blackberries.
I am going to describe two species here, to show the general characteristics. That should help you recognize a thorn when you see one, but it
If you are not sure if you have thorn when foraging, please check with additional sources to be sure, before eating the berries.
This grows as a small tree or large shrub, and has clusters of white flowers in late spring. The berries turn red in September (here), but they sweeten later. By October 31, they were sweet, and maybe a little past peak. Each berry has 3-5 seeds.
Hawthorn Crataegus Spp.
The leaves are lobed and toothed, as you can see in my picture above. Many other thorn species have similar leaves. The tree is heavily armed with long thorns, up to about 3 inches in length. However, with reasonable care, you can easily harvest the berries, which tend to hang away from the branch. It is even easier later in the season after many of the leaves have fallen and are no longer hiding the thorns.
Also known as common thorn, this is a European native that has escaped cultivation and naturalized in North America. It’s sometimes called an invasive plant, but I don’t find it very often, and when I do see it, it’s not much in one area. It may be aggressive 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 clusters of white flowers in late spring. The oval red berries ripen a little earlier (than the Washington thorn) in fall and contain one seed (hence the name). The leaves are more deeply toothed than those of the Washington thorn, but the thorns are much smaller, only about 1/2 inch to an inch long.
Hookworms are common in the forest understory here in Massachusetts, but these are scrawny examples that don’t produce well. It’s too dark in the forest. To find heather full of fruit, look in sunny places, such as bushy and thick fields, at the edge of pastures, and along streams. They are often planted as ornamentals, so if your friend has one and you don’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 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 berries, so I check it daily. I know other sections, (like vanilla section) take weeks, so that’s what I expect here. It is a small deciduous tree or large shrub in 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. The branches of the thorn have many strong spines and its bark is smooth, pale, and gray. The leaves are alternate, leathery, and deeply lobed. The flowers grow in clusters of 10 – 20, are white with a pink tint, and have 5 petals. The plant also has clusters of single-seeded red berries. Seeds are widely dispersed by birds.
The Benefits Of Hawthorn Berry & Leaf Extract
The English blackstone is similar to the native blackstone. The leaves of the blackthorn are only weakly lobed, and the fruits are black rather than red.
English Hawthorn grows in many types of soil, but seems to prefer moist, disturbed areas. In its native range, it often grows as an understory species. Here in Oregon, it can be found growing in riparian areas, pastures, forests, woodlands and abandoned fields. Once established, it can survive moderate drought conditions
English hawthorn can grow in thickets that crowd out native vegetation and make it difficult for wildlife to move. It also intermingles with the native thorn, which can reduce the number of native thorn and can create a thinner and more competitive mix. The birds may prefer their berries to the native berry plants, which may reduce the regeneration of native plants.
The orange to deep red berries, usually with one stone, although some species or hybrids may have more, hang in clusters in Autumn.
Impressive Health Benefits Of Hawthorn Berry
The berries are best after frost in autumn but as frost appears later and later try the berries, they are ready when they are sweet. We also now have freezers so the berries can be artificially ‘bleeded’ (frozen).
All parts of the thorn are good for regulating blood pressure but the leaves are said to be the best and are used to make tea.
The Hawthorn has several different species and many hybrids growing in the UK but the most common is monogyna followed by the Midland Hawthorn, laevigata. Both can grow as a shrub like shrub or more like a tree with a monogyna usually taller.
The berries are high in pectin and are a great addition to jellies and jams to help them set. The berries make a beautiful jelly by themselves and the direct juice, made by pressing the berries in the hands and straining them, sets very quickly without heat. If the berries are very sweet no sugar is needed, if not just add a little sugar to taste. Black Cockspur is a flowering tree with flat branches studded with large thorns. Thornless cockspur is an easy-to-use variety that allows gardeners to invite these North American natives into the garden without those pesky branches. For information on thornless thorn trees, including tips on how to grow thornless thorn, read on.
Benefits Of Using Siberian Hawthorn Berries
) may have tracks to show for it. These dense shrubs, native to eastern Canada and the United States, bear long, sharp thorns that can draw blood.
Like the species plant, thornless cockspur thorn grows into relatively short trees with broad, rounded canopies and flat bracts. They are about 30 feet (9 m.) high and just as wide. Hawthorn trees are usually thornless with low branches with thick foliage. Sometimes they can be seen growing as large, flat-topped bushes.
Black thornless trees sport dark-green leaves during the growing season, then turn red, orange and yellow in autumn. The trees lose their leaves in the winter and they return them in the spring. White flowers that appear in early spring turn into red berries. These berries ripen in autumn. They hang on the trees well into the winter, providing desirable food for wild birds and small mammals.
If you are thinking of growing a thornless hawthorn, you will find the tree an ornamental delight in the garden. They have the distinct advantage of not being armed and dangerous, as well as the best properties of the thorn. These deciduous trees grow in US Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8.
A Complete Guide To Washington Hawthorn Trees
If you want to know how to grow a thornless thorn, the first thing is to plant it in a sunny place. They need six hours of sun just to thrive.
Thornless thorns are easier to care for and keep healthy if you plant them in moist, well-drained soil. They grow both in acidic and alkaline soil.
Although thornless thorn trees are drought tolerant, you can avoid any possibility by watering properly. Make some watering part of your thornless thorn tree care routine.