Washington Hawthorn Berries Edible – Hawthorn berry picking is new to me this year. They are sweet and delicate if you take them at the right time, and in years past I was tasting them too early in the fall. This year, Washington hawthorn was sweet and mild in late October. But by that point, the single-seeded hawthorn was starting to rot, so next year I’ll be looking for those in mid-October.
I owe some credit to Josh Fecteau’s recent post on hawthorn, which inspired me to try hawthorn berries again. As Josh points out, there are many species of hawthorn, perhaps 50 in New England. And, across North America, perhaps a thousand species, according to George Symonds (from his wonderful book Tree Identification Book: A New Method for the Practical Identification and Recognition of Trees
Washington Hawthorn Berries Edible
, my favorite guide to learning tree ID). Fortunately, it is not necessary to be able to identify particular species. You just have to know that it is 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 seeds.
Hawthorn Berries: Identify, Harvest, And Make An Extract |
Why bother with hawthorns? They are beautiful, interesting and tasty wild edibles with known health benefits. Some people use the berries to make hawthorn jelly, but I have yet to try it. Berries, leaves and flowers can all be used to make tea. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see how I’m making hawthorn berry extract.
I will describe two species here, to exemplify the general characteristics. This should help you recognize a hawthorn when you see one, but me
If you are unsure if you have a hawthorn when foraging, check with additional sources until you are sure before eating the berries.
It grows as a small tree or large shrub and bears clusters of white flowers in late spring. Berries turn red in September (here), but sweeten later. By October 31 they were sweet and maybe slightly over the peak. Each berry has 3-5 seeds.
Hawthorn Berry, Leaf, & Flower
The leaves are lobed and toothed, as you can see in my photo above. Many other hawthorn species have similar leaves. The tree is heavily armed with long spines, up to about 3 inches long. However, with reasonable caution, you can easily pick the berries, which tend to hang from the branch. It is even easier later in the season, after many leaves have fallen and no longer obscure the thorns.
Also called common hawthorn, it is a European native that escaped cultivation and naturalized in North America. It is sometimes labeled as an invasive plant, but I don’t find it very often and when I see it, there isn’t much of it in one area. It may be invasive in other parts of the country, but it doesn’t appear 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 (compared to Washington hawthorn) in the fall and contain only one seed (hence the name). The toothed leaves are more deeply lobed than those of Washington hawthorn, but the spines are much smaller, only 1/2 inch to one inch long.
Hawthorns are common in the forest undergrowth here in Massachusetts, but they are lean specimens that don’t bear fruit well. It is too shady in the forest. To find fruit-laden hawthorns, look in sunny places, such as shrub fields and thickets, at the edges of pastures and along streams. They are often planted as ornamental, so if your friend has one and you don’t mind picking a few berries, you have an easy foraging experience on hand.
This is my first experience with hawthorn berries and I am using them to make an extract, with the same process you would use to make vanilla extract. I hope to use hawthorn extract as a condiment in cooking and baking. I filled a clean jar about 3/4 full with berries, covered them with 80 degree vodka and capped the jar. I’m not sure how long it will take to get enough flavor out of the berries, so I’ll check it every day. I know that other extracts, (like vanilla extract) take weeks, so that’s what I expect here., Hawthorn fossils found in the 1990s date back to the mid-Miocene era, 15 million years ago. The geological investigation that uncovered these fossils unearthed them in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Hawthorn Cordial Recipe: Hawthorn For The Heart
The most widespread variety of hawthorn comes from the Central Asian and European group consisting of about 100 species. It often grows as a tree to a trunk with flowers that give off a rather unpleasant odor. The berries it carries are usually used in a variety of herbal preparations. They are also considered a nutritious food source.
Hawthorn fruit is characterized by its oblong, pear or round shape. The berries are generally the same size as the large grown blueberries. Depending on the specific species, the colors of the berries can vary from scarlet, yellow to orange, blue, black or yellow. Its pulp is very similar to that of rosehip: dry and floury.
Although hawthorn berries are not directly classified as poisonous, there are some cases where they can cause some negative effects when consumed. The seeds of the fruits in
Family are known to contain an amygdalin compound which is basically cyanide which is bound to sugar. When eaten, this combination can turn into hydrogen cyanide as it travels to the small intestine.
Washington Hawthorn Mayflower Shrub Tree Edible Fruit &
The lowest reported lethal dose of hydrogen cyanide in humans was 0.54 mg / kg body weight. The mean absorbed dose at the time of death was estimated to be 1/4 mg of hydrogen cyanide per kg of body weight.
This means that if you weigh 70 kg, your lowest lethal dose would be 37.8 mg or about 54 grams of crushed apple seeds (these need to be crushed for the amygdalin to come into contact with the enzymes). It means you should avoid eating 66 crushed apple seeds. I would say it is quite easy to do.
Just like apples, when eating hawthorn berries, it is best to spit out the seeds. An adult who accidentally consumes a few pieces of his seeds shouldn’t have a problem. However, for children, adverse effects are likely to be more pronounced.
The flesh of the fruit itself is not poisonous. However, there have been cases where people have reported an unpleasant aftertaste.
How To Get Rid Of Hawthorn Trees [a Thorough Guide]
Around spring, most people harvest the leaves before their colors change and use them for salads. The same can be done for its flower petals as well. Berries generally taste much better after frost, but they can also be used before frost.
The berries can be used to make jellies and jams. They also add 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 is a whole host of medicinal benefits that can be achieved by using hawthorn berry. This is why its supplement forms are used to treat a variety of diseases.
In particular, hawthorn supplements are known to be used for ailments related to the heart and circulatory system. However, these supplements may not be as effective in treating severe forms of related conditions.
Identifying Hawthorn And Blackthorn
Berries in the form of tea can be helpful in lowering and regulating blood pressure. The naturally high content of pectin makes them ideal for making jellies. Although the berries do not taste particularly pleasant when eaten whole, they are often mixed with a variety of other fruits in wine or cake making. Hawthorn berries (Hawberries) and Mayhaw (Crataegus). There are many different Hawthorns in North America. Around the world, there are hundreds of them. Many of the hawthorns you find here are naturalized hawthorns from other parts of the world. Hawthorns belong to the same family as apples and roses, so it’s no surprise that the easiest way to describe a hawthorn in general is that it looks like a smaller apple tree with large thorns and fruits that look like rose hips or crabapples. Be careful, larger woody spines can be very dangerous – they are hard, sharp and strong and will go through the flesh with ease. There is also a serious danger from the fruit of this tree: THE SEEDS ARE VERY POISONOUS. Never eat a seed – you have to take it seriously.
Hawthorn has long been used medicinally for heart disease. It is now believed that hawthorn can act as a beta blocker similar to prescription medicines of beta blockers. For this reason, you should be careful about eating hawthorn berries if you are taking such a medicine, as the combined effect may be too strong. A link here to initiate further research on this topic. I also read that it has now been shown to strengthen the heart, and you see Hawthorn sold in the vitamin section of drugstores and