Hawthorn | Crataegus spp

Family: Rosaceae

Parts Used: Berry & Leaf

Appearance: Hawthorn is a tall shrub with few large trunks and mostly robust stems and branches covered in rough, grey-brown bark in older plants and reddish brown bark in younger plants. The leaves are small bright green fan-shaped with a wide toothed tip. The flowers bloom in open bunches as little white roses growing our of leaf axils and side branches. The flowers mature into red or black little apples in irregular clusters. The stems and branches are armed in with short slightly curved thorns less than an inch long. Hawthorne can be found along rivers, in moist canyons and in thickets around the edges of natural meadows.

Harvesting Methods: Gather the flowering branches in the spring and dry them carefully hanging upside down in bundles in a dark well-ventilated room or loosely in brown paper bags. For a fresh tincture, you can use the whole flowering branch (leaves, spines, small twigs, and flowers). For dried herb tinctures, use only the leaves and flowers and discard the twigs. The berries can be collected in the Fall when they are purple-black and can be dried in a brown paper bag for teas or tinctures. The dried flowers and leaves will last for a year if stored in a sealed bag/jar, and the dried berries can last for several years.

Medicinal Uses: Hawthorn is a heart tonic. It is a mild vasodilator for the coronary arteries of the heart, which increases blood flow and nutrient delivery to the heart muscle and reduced the chance of spasm, angina and shortness of breath. It is also used for hypertension, arrhythmia and tachycardia (rapid heartbeat). The berries contain a high level of flavonoids which lowers chronic inflammation in the circulatory system and reduces free radical damage. Hawthorn takes weeks to a few months to take effect, but the effects are well-maintained.

Preparation: Visit the ‘Medicine Making‘ page for more details

  • A tincture of the fresh berries and/or flowering tops is made as a 1:2 ratio in 50% alcohol and taken as 15 to 30 drops up to 3x/day, then reduced to 2x/day after a few weeks

  • A tincture of the dried flowering tops and/or berries is made as a 1:5 ratio in 50% alcohol and taken as 10-20 drops up to 3x.day, then reduced to 2x/day after a few weeks

  • A well-rounded tsp of the flowers and leaves, or a scant tsp of crushed berries, in 1 cup of hot water makes for a lovely tea

Caution: Consult your healthcare provider to ensure that Hawthorn is safe for you.

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