Washington Hawthorn Tree Are The Berries Edible For The Deer – Picking hawthorn berries is new to me this year. They are sweet and tender if you get them at just the right time, and in previous years I tasted them too early in the fall. This year, the Washington hawthorn was sweet and tender in late October. But by then the single-seeded hawthorn started to rot, so next year I’ll be looking for them in mid-October.
I owe some credit to Josh Fecteau’s recent hawthorn post for inspiring me to try hawthorn berries again. As Josh points out, there are many hawthorn species in New England, maybe 50. And in all of North America, maybe 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 Tree Are The Berries Edible For The Deer
, 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 berries. HOWEVER, like apple seeds, hawthorn seeds contain cyanide and should not be eaten. Do not panic; just spit out the seeds.
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Why bother with hawthorns? They are beautiful, interesting and delicious 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 be used to make tea. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see how I make hawthorn berry extract.
I will describe two species here to show the general characteristics. This should help you recognize a hawthorn when you see one, but i
If you are not sure that you have hawthorn when foraging, please check other sources before eating the berries until you are sure.
It grows as a small tree or large shrub and bears clusters of white flowers in late spring. In September (here), the berries turn red, but later sweeten. By October 31st, they were sweet and probably a bit past their peak. Each berry contains 3-5 seeds.
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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 thorns about 3 inches long. However, with reasonable care, you can easily harvest berries that tend to hang from the branch. It’s even easier later in the season when many of the leaves have fallen and are no longer covering the thorns.
Also called common hawthorn, this is a European native that has escaped cultivation and naturalized in North America. It’s sometimes labeled an invasive plant, but I don’t see it very often, and when I do, it’s not a lot in one area. Maybe it’s invasive in other parts of the country, but it doesn’t seem to be very aggressive here. Like Washington hawthorn, single seed hawthorn grows as a shrub or small tree and bears clusters of white flowers in late spring. The oval red berries ripen slightly earlier (than Washington hawthorn) in the fall and contain one seed (hence the name). The toothed leaves are more deeply lobed than Washington hawthorn, but the thorns are much smaller, only about 1/2 inch to an inch long.
In Massachusetts, hawthorns are common in the forest understory, but they are variegated specimens that do not bear fruit. It’s too dark in the forest. To find hawthorns with fruit, look in sunny areas such as scrubby fields and thickets, pasture edges and along streams. They’re often planted as ornamentals, so if your friend has one and doesn’t mind you picking a few berries, it’s easy for you to forage.
This is my first experience using hawthorn berries and I use them to make the 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 from the berries, so I’ll be checking it daily. I know other extracts (like vanilla extract) take weeks, so I expect that. Hawthorn fossils found in the 1990s date back to the middle of the Miocene epoch, 15 million years ago. The geological survey that uncovered these fossils discovered them in the Black Mountains of South Dakota.
Hawthorn (crataegus Spp.) Leaf Spot
The most popular variety of hawthorn comes from the Central Asian and European group, which includes about 100 species. It often grows as a single-stemmed tree with flowers that emit a rather unpleasant smell. Its berries are commonly used in various herbal preparations. They are also considered a nutritious food source.
Hawthorn fruits are characteristically oblong, pear-shaped or round. Berries are usually the same size as cultivated large blueberries. Depending on the specific species, the color of the berries can be bright, orange-yellow, blue, black or yellow. Its flesh is very similar to that of rose hips – dry and mealy.
Although hawthorn berries are not directly classified as poisonous, there are some cases where their consumption can cause adverse effects. Fruit seeds
Family is known for containing the compound amygdalin, which is essentially a cyanide bound to a sugar. When eaten, this combination can be converted to hydrogen cyanide when it enters the small intestine.
Hawthorn Berries: Identify, Harvest, And Make An Extract |
The lowest reported lethal dose of hydrogen cyanide in humans was 0.54 mg/kg body weight. The average absorbed dose at the time of death was estimated to be 1/4 mg hydrogen cyanide per kg body weight.
This means that if you weigh 70 kg, your minimum lethal dose would be 37.8 mg or about 54 grams of crushed apple seeds (must be crushed to expose the amygdalin to the enzymes). This means you should avoid eating 66 crushed apple seeds. I’d say it’s pretty easy to do.
As with apples, it is best to spit out the seeds when eating hawthorn berries. An adult who accidentally consumes a few pieces of its seeds should have no problems. However, adverse effects are likely to be more pronounced in children.
The flesh of the fruit itself is not poisonous. However, there have been cases where people have reported an unpleasant aftertaste.
Hawthorn Berry, Leaf, & Flower
In the spring, most people harvest the leaves before they change color and use them for salads. The same can be done with flower petals. Berries usually taste much better after frost, but they can also be used before frost.
Berries can be used to make jellies and jams. They are also added to pastries. The berries, flowers and leaves are used to make tea; Many people use hawthorn tea when cooking couscous, quinoa or rice.
A whole host of medicinal benefits can be obtained from the consumption of hawthorn berries. Therefore, its supplement forms are used to treat various diseases.
In particular, it is noted that hawthorn supplements are used for diseases related to the heart and circulatory system. However, these supplements may not be as effective in treating severe forms of related diseases.
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Berries in tea form can be helpful in lowering and regulating blood pressure. The naturally high pectin content makes them ideal for making jellies. Although the berries do not have a particularly pleasant flavor when eaten whole, they are often mixed with various other fruits to make wine or pies. There are many varieties of hawthorn in North America. There are hundreds of them all over the world. Many of the hawthorns found here are naturalized hawthorns that came from other parts of the world. Hawthorns are in the same family as Apples and roses, so it’s no surprise that the most easily described hawthorn in general is that it looks like a smaller apple with large thorns and fruits that look like rose hips or crabapples. Be careful as the larger of the woody thorns can be very dangerous – they are hard, sharp and strong and easily pierce flesh. The fruits of this tree also pose a serious threat – the SEEDS ARE VERY POISONOUS. Never eat the seed – you have to take it seriously.
Hawthorn has long been used in medicine to treat heart disease. It is now believed that hawthorn may act as a beta blocker similar to prescription beta blockers. Therefore, if you are taking such drugs, you should be careful when eating hawthorn berries, as the overall effect may be too strong. Here is a link to start further research on this topic. I have also read that it is now proven to strengthen the heart and you see hawthorn sold in the vitamin section of pharmacies and