Herbs & Plants

Crataegus douglasii

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Botanical Name : Crataegus douglasii
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Crataegus
Series: Douglasianae
Species:C. douglasii
Order: Rosales

Synonyms: Crataegus rivularis. Nutt.

Common Names: Black Hawthorn

Habitat :Crataegus douglasii is native to Western N. AmericaBritish Columbia to Michigan, south to California. It grows on open woods, banks of mountain streams and on rocky banks.
Crataegus douglasii is a deciduous Tree growing to 9 m (29ft 6in). It is a compact erect bushy shrub covered in fan-shaped green leaves with teeth along the distal margin. Thorns along the branches are one to two centimeters long.

White flowers with greenish centers grow in bunches at the ends of each thin branch. The fruit is a very dark purple pome up to about a centimeter across. The fruits were a good food source for Native American peoples such as the Cheyenne and Nlaka’pamux.


It is not frost tender. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Midges.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure. It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.
A very easily grown plant, it prefers a well-drained moisture retentive loamy soil but is not at all fussy. Once established, it succeeds in excessively moist soils and also tolerates drought. It grows well on a chalk soil and also in heavy clay soils. A position in full sun is best when plants are being grown for their fruit, they also succeed in semi-shade though fruit yields and quality will be lower in such a position. Most members of this genus succeed in exposed positions, they also tolerate atmospheric pollution. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Seedling trees take from 5 – 8 years before they start bearing fruit, though grafted trees will often flower heavily in their third year. The flowers have a foetid smell somewhat like decaying fish. This attracts midges which are the main means of fertilization. When freshly open, the flowers have more pleasant scent with balsamic undertones. Seedlings should not be left in a seedbed for more than 2 years without being transplanted.
Seed – this is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame, some of the seed will germinate in the spring, though most will probably take another year. Stored seed can be very slow and erratic to germinate, it should be warm stratified for 3 months at 15°c and then cold stratified for another 3 months at 4°c. It may still take another 18 months to germinate. Scarifying the seed before stratifying it might reduce this time. Fermenting the seed for a few days in its own pulp may also speed up the germination process. Another possibility is to harvest the seed ‘green’ (as soon as the embryo has fully developed but before the seedcoat hardens) and sow it immediately in a cold frame. If timed well, it can germinate in the spring. If you are only growing small quantities of plants, it is best to pot up the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in individual pots for their first year, planting them out in late spring into nursery beds or their final positions. When growing larger quantities, it might be best to sow them directly outdoors in a seedbed, but with protection from mice and other seed-eating creatures. Grow them on in the seedbed until large enough to plant out, but undercut the roots if they are to be left undisturbed for more than two years.

Edible Uses:
Fruit – raw or cooked. A very pleasant flavour with a sweet and juicy succulent flesh, it makes an excellent dessert fruit and can be eaten in quantity. The fruit can also be used for making pies, preserves etc, and can be dried for later use. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter and is borne in small clusters. The fruits I have eaten have been considerably larger than this. There are up to five fairly large seeds in the centre of the fruit, these often stick together and so the effect is of eating a cherry-like fruit with a single seed

Medicinal Uses:
Antirheumatic; Astringent; Cardiotonic; Hypotensive; Poultice; Stomachic.

An infusion of the shoots has been used to treat diarrhoea in children and sores in babies mouths. A poultice of the chewed leaves has been applied to swellings. An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery. An infusion of the sapwood, bark and roots has been used as a stomach medicine. The thorns have been used as a treatment for arthritis.The point of the thorn was used to pierce an area affected by arthritic pain. The other end of the thorn was ignited and burned down to the point buried into the skin. This treatment was very painful but it was said that after a scab had formed and disappeared, the arthritic pain had also disappeared. The thorns have been used as probes for boils and ulcers. Although no other specific mention has been seen for this species, the fruits and flowers of many hawthorns are well-known in herbal folk medicine as a heart tonic and modern research has borne out this use. The fruits and flowers have a hypotensive effect as well as acting as a direct and mild heart tonic. They are especially indicated in the treatment of weak heart combined with high blood pressure. Prolonged use is necessary for it to be efficacious. It is normally used either as a tea or a tincture.

Other Uses:
Needles; Wood.

The spines on the branches are used as needles for lancing boils, removing splinters etc. Wood – close-grained, heavy, hard and tough. Used for tool handles etc.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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