Hawthorn berry (Crataegus crus-galli?)
…there must be something good! And, indeed — some of my favorite treats — rosehips, blackberries, and hawthorn berries — are all protected with the prickly presence of thorns.
“Hawthorn helps the heart flower, open, and be healed.” — Rosemary Gladstar
The thorny (1-2″ long thorns!) Cockspur Hawthorne bush, native to the area of the Appalachian Mountains that I reside in, has ripe fruit on it now. The dime to penny-sized red fruits are ripe when the flesh is yellow and the skin is red. Scrape the surface with your teeth and you’ll find a little flesh and big ole’ seeds!
I don’t pick the fruit for fruits sake. I pick them to make medicine. Hawthorne is packed with Vitamin C, trace minerals, bioflavonoids, and a host of other things I can’t name (read more about it here). Hawthorne flowers can be made into tea; I believe the leaves too. The fruit can be made into jam (it has a naturally-occurring pectin), syrup, tinctures, or dried to use later.
Look closely at the picture above… What does it remind you of? A rose hip? An apple? How about both! They are all in the Rosaceae family. So, like apples you can use this fruit to add pectin to other jams (blackberry for example). Also, like rose, Hawthorne fruit speaks to the heart. Hawthorne fruit and flower are used medicinally as a heart tonic — basically, strengthening the heart function. I used Hawthorne tincture with Passionflower tincture for about a year to help heal some pretty serious heart palpitations I was having around 2001-2002.
My favorite thing to do with these fruits is to make syrup. Here’s my recipe (if you don’t have access to these fruits, order dried berries from Mountain Rose Herbs):
1 part Hawthorne berries (fresh)
3 parts water
1 part maple syrup (grade B or C)
ginger chunks, peeled (optional)
cinnamon sticks (optional)
star anise (optional)
Simmer berries in water until water reduces by half (mash berries during this process when they are soft). Add maple syrup and optional ingredients and simmer for 15-30 min. Strain out berries and optional ingredients. Put in sterilized (hot water) jar and add a small amount of brandy (to help the syrup keep). Place in fridge and drink 1-2 Tablespoons when you need it (I take a swig each morning!). Will keep in fridge for 3-6 months.
“Let its beauty and strength imbue you with great heart, for hawthorn is the herb of healthy hearts.” — Susan Weed, Herbalist