When Should You Harvest Hawthorn Berries – It is easy to identify and harvest – I would go so far as to say that it is one of the easiest plants to grow because it is so distinctive and grows abundantly around the world. Like all wild plants, hawthorn should be harvested carefully and respectfully, and there are a number of foraging basics that must be followed. According to George Symonds, in his amazing book Tree Identification Book: A New Method for the Practical Identification and Recognition of Trees, there are over 1,000 species and subspecies of hawthorn berries in North America alone – this does not include all species in Europe, Asia, and Africa and the rest of the world.
The hawthorn family is related to both roses and apples, as well as many other food items, including cherries, peaches, meadowsweet, and rowan. Hawthorn is full of natural compounds, nutrients, minerals and trace elements, making it an extremely valuable healing herb. It is the oldest known medicinal herb that appears in documents around the world in the first century and is gaining popularity with mainstream physicians today.
When Should You Harvest Hawthorn Berries
Its main use is in heart disease, but it is also used for digestive ailments, as an immune booster, anti-inflammatory, and general tonic, as well as for some mental health conditions and skin problems. You can learn more about the health benefits of hawthorn here. Blueberries (another name for blueberries) have a mild apple flavor and make super tasty jam, jelly, cake filling, and ketchup substitutes. Hawthorn also has a tremendous amount of folklore attached to it, including the belief that it is a fabulous tree.
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First, don’t be obsessed with collecting exclusively from native species. Most hawthorns, even if not truly native, have been naturalized for hundreds, if not thousands of years. For me, if I am sure it is hawthorn, it grows vigorously and produces large amounts of healthy leaves, flowers and berries, I eat it.
Hawthorn leaves are small, deep-lobed, and about as wide as they are long. The leaves generally appear before the first flowers. The hawthorn blooms from early to mid spring and is commonly known as the May bloom. In bloom, a tree (or shrub) has a huge number of small white (or pale pink) flowers. Hawthorn flowers appear in rounded clusters towards the ends of the branches. Each flower has five calyx lobes, one pistil and twenty stamens.
The fruits ripen in late summer to late fall and vary in color, shape and size from orange-yellow to deep crimson. Shapes vary from round to oblong or pear-shaped. The flesh of the fruit is dry and floury – like the inside of a rosehip. Hawthorns are commonly used as hedge shrubs, but they also grow as trees, up to a height of 12 meters, although they are more commonly found between three and six meters.
In addition to hedges, you will find them in forests and as lonely trees in the middle of fields and meadows. In some locations they are commonly used as park and wayside trees.
Sloe Berries And Hawthorn Hi Res Stock Photography And Images
Due to the high risk of pollution and the absorption of chemicals, I avoid feeding trees close to roads.
A word of warning: as the name suggests, the hawthorn, also known as the glutton, has sharp spines along its branches, which makes them as valuable as hedges as they form a dense, thorny wall that is not easily penetrated.
The length and sharpening of the thorns varies by species, but can reach over three inches in length. They are slim, strong and extremely sharp, so they can cause serious, painful injuries if you are not careful when harvesting.
Now you are sure that the tree you are looking at is hawthorn, it’s time to harvest. If you use leaves, harvest them from mid-spring to early fall – this is when they are in top condition and contain the most nutrients. Later, when the leaves begin to turn, they lose their power.
Watercolor Illustration Of Hawthorn Red Berries And Green Leaves On Branches. Botanical Art. Hand Drawn Clipart Stock Photo
Harvest flowers in clusters mid to late spring when they are fully grown. For an early harvest, you can also take the buds before they open.
Berries or berries ripen from early to late fall, depending on the location and species of the tree. When they are fully ripe, remove the hawthorn berries from the branches, carefully avoiding sharp spines.
Remember that when harvesting hawthorn berries or anything else, never take more than half of what is available. You’re only a small part of a larger ecosystem – and you share nature’s wealth with other creatures, from insects to birds and small mammals – it’s a delicate balance, so don’t be greedy.
Additionally, of course, taking as much as half of it is best foraging practice as it allows plants to continue to thrive and spread over generations. If you recklessly and carelessly deplete these natural resources, they will disappear in just a few years and there will be nothing left for future generations. Therefore, always be respectful when harvesting.
Hawthorn Berry Harvest — Shrīmālā
Always be vigilant when collecting hawthorn because of its sharp spines, and be especially careful if you have children with you, as the tree can cause unpleasant injuries, especially to the little ones.
Besides, there is not much – as long as you take care not to grab the thorns, collecting hawthorn is easy.
I prefer to use fresh hawthorn whenever I can, whether for medicinal purposes or for baking. However, this is not always possible, and I also like to have a stock to see me through the winter months. So the easiest way to wash and freeze the stock. You can dry the berries and leaves too – but I find the flowers too delicate for my dryer.
One of the key ways I use hawthorn is tincture due to its many health benefits. It’s also surprisingly easy. Learn how to make hawthorn tincture with or without alcohol here. Collecting hawthorn berries is a novelty for me this year. They’re sweet and mild if you buy them at the right time, and I’ve tasted them too early in the fall for the last few years. This year, Washington’s hawthorn was sweet and mild in late October. But by then, the hawthorn has started to rot, so next year I’ll be looking for those in mid-October.
Organic Way Hawthorn Berries Cut & Sifted (crataegus Monogyna)
I owe some credit to a recent post by Josh Fecteau that inspired me to try hawthorn berries again. As Josh notes, there are many species of hawthorn, perhaps 50 in New England. And there are probably a thousand species across North America, according to George Symonds (from his wonderful book Tree Identification Book: A New Method for the Practical Identification and Recognition of Trees).
, my favorite tree ID learning guide). Fortunately, you don’t need to be able to identify individual species. You just need to know it’s hawthorn as 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.
Why bother with hawthorns? They are beautiful, interesting and tasty wild foods with known health properties. Some people use blueberries to make hawthorn jelly, but I haven’t tried it yet. Berries, leaves and flowers can be used to prepare tea. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see me making hawthorn berry extract.
I will describe two species here to illustrate the general characteristics. That should help you recognize the hawthorn when you see it, but I do
Cutaway Hawthorn Berry Image & Photo (free Trial)
If you are unsure if you have hawthorn while foraging, check additional sources before eating the berries until you are sure.
It grows as a small tree or large shrub and produces clumps of white flowers in late spring. The berries turn red in September (here) but then sweeten later. On October 31st they were sweet and maybe a bit off-peak. Each berry has 3-5 seeds.
The leaves are lobed and serrated as seen in my photo above. Many other species of hawthorn have similar leaves. The tree is heavily armored with long thorns up to about 3 inches long. However, with reasonable care, you can easily pick the berries that usually hang from the branches. It is even easier later in the season when many leaves have fallen and no longer obscure the thorns.
Also known as the common hawthorn, it is a European native who escaped from cultivation and settled in North America. It’s sometimes branded 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 elsewhere in the country, but doesn’t seem particularly aggressive here. Like the Washington hawthorn, the hawthorn grows as a shrub or small tree and bears clumps of white flowers in late spring. Oval red berries ripen slightly earlier (than Washington Hawthorn) in fall and contain a single seed (hence the name). The serrated leaves are lobed deeper than Washington’s hawthorn, but the thorns are much smaller,