Hawthorn is one of the most magical, wild and enchanted of our sacred native trees. Often being called the “faerie tree”. This gnarly, beautiful and thorny little one can be found growing in the wildest of spots, loving some of the most harshest of weathers.
I find the shape of a hawthorn leaf to be full of beauty, the white delicate blossom a May day delight and the berries / haws a welcome blood red sight. I also love that hiding behind all these things are some very large and sharp thorns that can scratch many an unsuspecting forager.
I once met a gnarled old woman who was as silver as the moon, she had a magical cloth pouch that contained the needles she had made from the thorns of a hawthorn tree. She described to me at length the wonderments of this ancient tree. She told me a secret about fermenting the haws which she called pixie pears or cuckoos beads into a wine that would keep you warm and heart safe in the coming winter.
Hawthorns bright red haws shine like so many other autumn jewels that nestle, hang and dance in reds, blacks, oranges, blues and purples among the gradually exposed branches of the season. All the edible and medicinal berries have such different tastes and uses and in the autumn I find myself busy making potions and new recipes from the abundant gifts on offer.
The haw of the Hawthorn is not full of flavour, tending to be quite like an avocado in taste and texture, but I love picking the beautiful red haws on a walk along the moors and nibbling at the soft flesh that surrounds rather a large seed in the middle. It’s mellow taste is easy and refreshing. The haw is full of pectin and so makes a good jam thats delicious when mixed with other fruits. Hawthorn berries are a great one for making fruit leather with, it hardens and forms the leather with no extra work needed. Just smooshing the berries by hand and then sieving the seeds out and letting it dry is enough. I find this lacks in flavour though and I like to add some other fruits or spices into the mix.
Hawthorn is a heart trophorestorative (herbs that bring balance to a particular organ or system in a person whether that function is excess or deficient), bringing balance to the heart. It has been used for both high and low blood pressure and to normalise cholesterol levels. It is high in antioxidants (help your body fight free radicals) and its relaxing nervine (to calm the nerves) properties are beneficial when a person is under stress or not dealing with stress well, which is hard on the heart. A beautiful medicine indeed and a wonderfully safe one to fill your larder and cabinet with.
I love to gather these gems and make vinegars, elixirs, fruit leathers, oils, honeys and brandies which all turn a wonderful fiery red akin to a healthy heart. I often like to mix haws with rose petals as both work so beautifully with the heart, helping to build a sense of calm. Hawthorn works well with many other berries and I love making a vitaman c rich potion which has elderberries, hawthorn berries, rosehips, blackberries and raspberries in. I also absolutely LOVE to gather the leaves in spring, the blossom in May and the berries in autumn and put them all in the same concoction and then it will contain each of the seasons through the three potent elements of the tree.
Enjoy the abundance