EagleSong Evans Gardner, community herbalist, taught Hawthorn Remedies and Recipes at the 2016 Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference. Here is some of her wisdom about the plant and it's uses.
Hawthorn, Crataegus spp. is the epitome of a common plant, proliferating around planet Earth in the temperate northern latitudes. A member of the congenial Rosaceae family, this small to medium tree takes her place in rough environments with grace and even charm. Growing 16’-50’ with small pome fruits, haws, and often sharp, thorny branches, Crataegus are used as specimen trees in gardens, as a foundation tree in countryside hedges and as a gnarly free agent in neglected landscapes providing shelter and food for innumerable insects, birds, amphibians, small mammals and, occasionally, humans! Just for fun, check out www.theplantlist.org where you’ll find 2718 plant names for Crataegus sp. found around the world!
The name hawthorn is an old English term for hedgethorn. Crataegus oxycantha or monogyna predominate as a shrubby tree used in European hedges along with its counter part the black thorn, sloe or trnka plum! An exceptionally vigorous and adaptive tree, Crataegus occasionally resort to apomixis, a form of asexual reproduction not requiring cross fertilization to create entirely new species. Two other commonly used herbs with this capacity are Taraxacum and Alchemilla, our friends and allies, dandelion and Lady's mantle. Somehow, this just tickles my fancy!
Generally recognized as a food with special properties wherever it grows, hawthorn preparations include haw candies, juice, wine, herbal medicines, and is used fresh and dried in soups, teas, punches, jams, butters, chutneys and relishes. Although, not universally accepted as beneficial, at least one county in WA state has listed the Hawthorn as an invasive species...since this is the county where I harvest all the haw used in my practice and heart health is a major concern in our communities, the mark is being missed in engaging an ally by some!