Common hawthorn got its name from the very nutritious red berries called haws and from the sharp and long thorns. Some simply call the tree “thorn”. The red berries (haws) are a significant food source for birds.
The hawthorn blooms in May. Some call the hawthorn merely “May”. The white flowers have five pedals. The sepals look like stars. The flowers are one of nature’s many examples of a pentagram.
Cut back to make hedgerows the thorns are particularly sharp. This made the hawthorn a great barrier hedge protecting livestock. This tree has also been nicknamed “hedgethorn”.
The wood of the hawthorn is known for its toughness and often used to carve walking staffs.
The botanical name for common hawthorn is Cratagus monogyna. It can grow up to 8 meters (25 feet).
Hawthorn is the state flower of Missouri, USA.
Common Hawthorn is Edible!
The leaves, flowers and berries are all edible. The hawthorn is known as “the bread and cheese tree”.
The young leaves have been used traditionally on sandwiches. The young leaves can be eaten fresh and taste quite nice.
The haws or berries do not taste very good on their own, but are wonderful to use in jams and syrup. Berries are used to make wines.
Hawthorn can also be enjoyed as a tea.
Hawthorn Berry Benefits
Hawthorn has throughout history been used to treat kidney and bladder problems.
In the 19th century hawthorn was recognized as an excellent heart remedy. This herb is non-toxic.
Hawthorn is probably the best natural heart remedy known to us.
The haws (red berries) do wonders for the functions of the heart. Hawthorn is packed with protective actions on the heart.
The blood flows more freely through the blood vessels and this increases the amount of blood pumped by the heart.
Hawthorn is used to treat irregular heartbeat, angina and heart failure.
As hawthorn increases blood circulation, it is good for people who get the feeling of inching needles in their legs from sitting too long.
Hawthorn also supplies the brain with more blood increasing the oxygen level. This helps improve your memory and your concentration.
Hawthorn seems to have a positive effect assisting to reduce high cholesterol as well as high blood pressure.
It is often used just as a relaxant as it is said to ease stress.
In many herbal products the leaves, flowers and berries are combined to take greater advantage of all the medicinal properties this plant has to offer.
If you suspect you have a heart condition always consult your physician.
Common Hawthorn In Folklore and Mythology
Hawthorn was sacred to the goddess Cardea. She was goddess of the door-hinges in Ancient Rome. Hawthorn had the power through Cardea to exclude malicious impacts from entering the home.
Cardea was the courtesan of the two-faced Roman god named Janus. He could see the past and the future. The month of January got its name from Janus.
The first day of the month was dedicated to his lover, the goddess Cardea.Cardea was known to safeguard small children through hawthorn.
In Ancient Greece the hawthorn symbolized joy.
A romantic superstition claimed that if a young maiden wished to marry she must pick a hawthorn flower and walk home in complete silence.
A hawthorn grown close to the home would bring good luck. Just remember never to take its flowers inside.
In Scotland they had a superstition about forecasting the winter by observing the hawthorn. If the hawthorn had an abundance of haws, the winter would be hard and cold. The old saying went like the: “Mony haws, mony snaws”.
For many centuries people throughout Europe believed that hawthorn would protect against fire. Others believed that a sprig of hawthorn would protect the carrier from lightning.
Superstitions that a hawthorn hedge would protect the property from wicked fairies were known in Ireland.
In the old Celtic Ogham tree alphabet the hawthorn was a sacred tree and represented with the letter H.
Hawthorn flowers were earlier collected and used to decorate the Maypole. The flower wreaths were female symbols surrounding the phallic pole. When people were on a mission gathering blossoms for the Maypole it was called “going-a-Maying”.
An old English superstition implied that it was very unlucky to sleep in a room with hawthorn flowers. These flowers were called “May flowers” and many believed bringing hawthorn flowers into the home would forecast the death of a family member. A saying went like this: “May flower in – coffin out”.
Hawthorn flowers do decay very quickly and when they decay they produce an appalling smell which may have seemed like the smell of death.
In Christian tradition many believe that the thorn crown Jesus was made to wear was made of hawthorn.
In the old legend of the Glastonbury Thorn it is told that Joseph of Arimethea put his walking rod in the ground in Glastonbury, England.
According to legend the staff was made from the wood of the same tree as the crown of thorns which Jesus wore.
The staff miraculously sprouted into a hawthorn tree. This tree naturally became holy and a Christian chapel was soon built on the site.
This was no ordinary hawthorn tree. The Glastonbury hawthorn blossoms twice yearly.
To this very day the Glastonbury tree blooms just around Christmas and in the spring.
Every Christmas a branch from the Holy Glastonbury Thorn by St. John’s Church is cut and given to the Majesty of the U.K.
There is another Holy Hawthorn tree on the Wearyall Hill in Glastonbury.