When To Collect Hawthorn Berries – Hawthorn berry harvesting is a new one for me this year. They are sweet and mild if you get them at the right time, and in past years I tasted them too early in autumn. This year, Washington hawthorn was sweet and mild in late October. But by then, the one-seed hawthorn was starting to rot, so next year I’ll be looking for those in mid-October.
I owe a lot of credit to Josh Fecteau’s recent post about hawthorn, which inspired 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, possibly a thousand species, according to George Symonds (from his excellent book Tree Identification Book : A New Method for Practical Tree Identification and Identification
When To Collect Hawthorn Berries
, my favorite guide for learning an ID tree). Fortunately, you don’t need to be able to identify specific species. You 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. Don’t panic; just spit out the seeds.
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Why bother with hawthorn? They are a beautiful, interesting and delicious wild food with known health benefits. Some people use the berries to make hawthorn jelly, but I have yet to try this. 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’m going to describe two species here, to illustrate the general characteristics. That should help you recognize the hawthorn when you see one, but i
If you are unsure whether you have hawthorn when foraging, check with additional sources until you are sure, before eating the berries.
This grows as a small tree or large bush, and bears clusters of white flowers in late spring. The berries turn red in September (here), but sweeten later. By October 31st, they were sweet, and maybe a little peaked. Each berry has 3-5 seeds.
Hunter Gathering: Wild & Fresh Food: The Strange Properties Of Hawthorn
The leaves are lobed and toothed, as you can see in my picture above. Many other hawthorn species have similar leaves. The tree is heavily armed with long thorns, up to about 3 inches long. However, with reasonable care, you can easily harvest the berries, which tend to hang off 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 hawthorn, this is a European native that has escaped cultivation and naturalized in North America. It is sometimes branded as an invasive plant, but I don’t find it very often, and when I do, it’s not much in one area. It may be invasive in other parts of the country, but it does not appear to be particularly aggressive here. Like the Washington hawthorn, the single-seeded 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 the Washington hawthorn) in autumn and contain one seed (hence the name). The serrated leaves are more deeply lobed than those of the Washington hawthorn, but the thorns are much smaller, only about 1/2 inch to an inch long.
Hawthorn is common in the forest understory here in Massachusetts, but those are spindly specimens that don’t fruit well. It’s too shady in the forest. To find hawthorns full of fruit, look in sunny areas, such as fields and thickets, on pasture edges, and along streams. They are often planted as ornamentals, so if your friend has one and doesn’t mind you picking some berries, you have an easy foraging experience at your fingertips.
This is my first experience of using hawthorn berries, and I use them to make an extract, with 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 capped the jar. I’m not sure how long it will take to extract enough flavor from 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. Planting in autumn or spring is best for hawthorn, but, as with all shrubs, the ideal time is always autumn.
Hawthorn Berry Herb As A Diuretic
Choosing to plant in autumn allows root development before winter, and spring growth will be stronger.
The hawthorn is very easy to care for, and only needs a little attention when it has settled in correctly.
There is no need to prune the hawthorn unless it is part of a hedge. If it is, you will have to trim it regularly.
It is often used in protective hedges, however the hawthorn is more than that, as it has decorative leaves and blooms profusely, making it a very beautiful tree.
Wild Berry Paradise
Durable and easy to care for, this tree will also give you satisfaction as it will adapt to the soil and climate where you live.
Leaves take on various shades from spring to fall, and magnificent berries will adorn your hawthorn from late summer to early winter.
Although edible, hawthorn berries taste bland and delicious when raw, but birds go wild for them.
If you need to discourage people from crossing your yard, use hawthorn because its thorns are the real thing!
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(all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois): Plenty of hawthorn berries (also on social media) by Christel Funk under a Pixabay license Hawthorn flowers by Les Whalley under a Pixabay license A few berries on a hawthorn by Michaela under a license Pixabay Leaves and berries (also on social media) by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work Tara Gould (content and communication) A.S.APOTHECARY stepped out into the Sussex countryside to collect Hawthorn berries for a home infusion to strengthen the heart .
The gnarled and sculptural Hawthorn tree proliferates along the tight corridors of our cobbled roads in Sussex. Its ancient silhouette adorns our thickets and woodlands and borders farmland, arable meadows and sheep-grazed pastures. At this time of year the shiny red berries are easy to find. On a recent cross country walk to Firle, I was delighted to discover an abundance of the blood red fruit, adorning a tapestry of hedgerows that lined the bridleway. I filled my canvas bag, and escaped with only a few nicks and scratches, pouring them out on my kitchen table to dry, ready for use.
I’m not used to making potions at home, my knowledge of plants, although growing, is still limited, but working for a specialist plant and writing about the botanical products we make here has started to influence my thought After reading about how beneficial the berries are for heart conditions I became more interested in the hawthorn. A month ago I reached a milestone birthday, and while I feel really positive about it, there’s nothing like half a century on this planet and peri-menopausal symptoms to force you to consider your mortality in a new and lively way. Hormone changes have led to higher blood pressure and occasional heart palpitations. So, I’m hoping that hawthorn’s cardiovascular healing powers might help protect against heart disease that runs in my family, improve my heart health and balance blood pressure.
Farmers have used Hawthorn as a natural border to their land since Saxon times due to its thick growth and spiky branches. It lives for up to 400 years and is one of our oldest, native plant companions. With its heart and ruby berry associations it is no surprise that the hawthorn is a symbol of romantic love and magical protection in Celtic mythology. It has always been associated with Beltane, brides wore hawthorn flowers in their hair and the Faery Queen was said to dwell under the thorny hawthorn branches, a myth that probably grew out of an earlier pre-Christian archetype , which reminds us of Goddess-centered worship. , practiced by priests in sacred round thorn bushes. Out of all our native and ancient trees, it is one of the most steeped in myth and legend, it has the power to open the heart, to protect against evil, to grant wishes and to offer strength in times of battle.
Indian Hawthorn Berries Information And Facts
Despite such positive comments of life, an old superstition still advised to bring its flowers into the home, which could invite illness and death inside. Records show that people in the Middle Ages reported that hawthorn flowers smelled exactly like the smell of the Great Plague. The chemical trimethylamine, which is present in hawthorn flowers, is also one of the chemicals formed in decaying animal tissue, and this may be where this superstition stems from.
More recently, a number of clinical studies have confirmed that hawthorn berries improve heart muscle tone, improve oxygen uptake by the heart, improve circulation to the heart, invigorate heart cells, and dilate blood vessels in the extremities to reduce stress on the heart. It has also been shown to improve memory as it improves blood flow, (and oxygen) to the head. It can