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Autumn | Hawthorn berry


Meet Hawthorn, a beloved tree often found in hedgerows, woods, fields, towns and hillsides. Distinguishable by her small firm red winter fruits that have a single stone. 

You might know some of her other names such as May Tree, Maythorn, quickthorn, bread and cheese, one seed, or Crataegus monogyna



This video at the bottom of this page is also available to watch on YouTube and Vimeo.

Hawthorns, also known as May trees after the month they usually come into flower,

are familiar sights along our streets and in our hedgerows and parks.

They are small to medium trees and in autumn, they can be identified by their deeply lobed leaves, the thorns on the twigs, and their deep red berries, or 'haws'

These haws have many medicinal uses:

like so many red winter berries, they are full of vitamin C

and can be made into a syrup, much like rosehip syrup, as a winter tonic.

Hawthorn berries also have a reputation

for nourishing the coronary arteries that is, the arteries that supply the heart itself with blood.

It's when these arteries become blocked, that heart attacks can occur.

Hawthorn berries are said to be able to help clear these blockages, as well as to help reduce high blood pressure.

They are also good at calming anxious minds and nervous digestions.

One way to preserve the medicinal qualities of hawthorn berries

for use throughout the year is to make a tincture from them.

Tinctures use alcohol (normally around 25%) to preserve the plant extract.

They are very useful as they keep for years without the need for refrigeration and are easy to take

- normally one to three teaspoons a day, diluted in water, is all that is needed.

To make a hawthorn berry tincture, first collect your berries,

enough to fill a jar ‚ it's up to you how large or small it is.

Once you have filled your jar with berries,

wash them and return to the jar.

Next, add enough vodka to completely cover the berries

do not leave any part of the berries poking out above the alcohol or they will go mouldy.

Put the lid on, label and leave in a warm, dark place

for at least a couple of weeks, up to a month.

At the end of this time, the hawthorn berries will look bleached of colour,

and the liquid should be a golden/pinky colour.

Every couple of days, give the jar a shake and return to its place.

After a couple of weeks, strain the mixture,

give the berry solids to the compost,

bottle the hawthorn berry tincture and label.