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Botanical Name:Crataegus monogyna
Species: C. monogyna
Common Names:may, mayblossom, maythorn, quickthorn, whitethorn, motherdie, and haw. common hawthorn or single-seeded hawthorn
Habitat :Crataegus monogyna grows in the Woods, hedges, thickets etc, on most soils except wet peat and poor acid sands of Europe, including Britain, absent from Iceland, south and west the the Mediterranean and Afghanistan.
Crataegus monogyna is a deciduous shrub or small tree 5–14 m tall, with a dense crown. The bark is dull brown with vertical orange cracks. The younger stems bear sharp thorns, 1 to 1.5 cm long. The leaves are 2–4 cm long, obovate and deeply lobed, sometimes almost to the midrib, with the lobes spreading at a wide angle. The upper surface is dark green above and paler underneath.
The hermaphrodite flowers are produced in late spring (May to early June in its native area) in corymbs of 5-25 together; each flower is about 1 cm diameter, and has five white petals, numerous red stamens, and a single style; they are moderately fragrant. They are pollinated by midges, bees and other insects and later in the year bear numerous haws. The haw is a small, oval dark red fruit about 1 cm long, berry-like, but structurally a pome containing a single seed. Haws are important for wildlife in winter, particularly thrushes and waxwings; these birds eat the haws and disperse the seeds in their droppings.
It is distinguished from the related but less widespread Midland Hawthorn (C. laevigata) by its more upright growth, the leaves being deeply lobed, with spreading lobes, and in the flowers having just one style, not two or three. However they are inter-fertile and hybrids occur frequently; they are only entirely distinct in their more typical forms
A very easily grown plant, it prefers a well-drained moisture retentive loamy soil but is not at all fussy. Succeeds in all but the very poorest acid soils. 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. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to at least -18°c. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus and with C. laevigata in the wild. There are many named forms selected for their ornamental value. 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. In heavier shade they quickly become drawn and leggy, eventually dying. An important food plant for the caterpillars of many lepidoptera species, there are 149 insect species associated with this tree. Plants are susceptible to fireblight.
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 Parts: Flowers; Fruit; Leaves.
Edible Uses: Coffee; Tea.
Fruit – raw or cooked. Not very appetizing raw, it is normally used for making jams and preserves. The fruit can be dried, ground, mixed with flour and used for making bread etc. The fruit is about 1cm in diameter. 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. Young shoots – raw. A pleasant nutty flavour, they are a good addition to the salad bowl. A tea is made from the dried leaves, it is a china tea substitute. The roasted seeds are a coffee substitute. The flowers are used in syrups and sweet puddings.
Antispasmodic; Astringent; Cardiotonic; Diuretic; Hypotensive; Sedative; Tonic; Vasodilator.
Hawthorn is an extremely valuable medicinal herb. It is used mainly for treating disorders of the heart and circulation system, especially angina. Western herbalists consider it a ‘food for the heart’, it increases the blood flow to the heart muscles and restores normal heart beat. This effect is brought about by the presence of bioflavonoids in the fruit, these bioflavonoids are also strongly antioxidant, helping to prevent or reduce degeneration of the blood vessels. The fruit is antispasmodic, cardiac, diuretic, sedative, tonic and vasodilator. Both the fruits and flowers of 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], they are also used to treat a heart muscle weakened by age, for inflammation of the heart muscle, arteriosclerosis and for nervous heart problems. Prolonged use is necessary for the treatment to be efficacious. It is normally used either as a tea or a tincture. Hawthorn is combined with ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) to enhance poor memory, working by improving the blood supply to the brain. The bark is astringent and has been used in the treatment of malaria and other fevers. The roots are said to stimulate the arteries of the heart.
Fuel; Hedge; Hedge; Wood.
A good hedge plant, it is very tolerant of being cut and of neglect and is able to regenerate if cut back severely, it makes a good thorny stock-proof barrier and resists very strong winds. It is often used in layered hedges. The cultivar ‘Stricta’ has made a very good hedge 3.5 metres tall in an exposed maritime position at Rosewarne in N. Cornwall. Wood – very hard and tough, difficult to work. Used for tool handles etc. Valued in turning. A good fuel, giving out a lot of heat.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.