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Are Hawthorn Berries Good to Eat?

Are Hawthorn Berries Good to Eat?

YES! Hawthorn berries are a great addition to tea, syrups and even jelly. We use them in quite a few of our products because we like their tart burst of Vitamin C.

The hawthorn tree is actually very rich in stories and myths so there is more than meets the eye if you go digging.

Are Hawthorn Trees Considered Unlucky?

  • In Celtic mythology, it was believed that if you lingered too long alone under a hawthorn tree you might be carried off to faery land.
  • In England, it was unlucky to bring a blooming bough into the house for decoration as illness or death was sure to befall someone within.
  • Christians believe that the “Crown of Thorns” was made with hawthorn and
  • Joseph of Aramithea is believed to have personally planted one very important tree, the Holy Thorn of Glastonbury, in Britain while traveling through with the Holy Grail. 
  • In ancient Greece and Rome the hawthorn tree was lucky and brought with it signs of fertility and love. As it bloomed in the Month of May, the time of courtship, it was included in marriage and birth ceremonies.

Whether you believe the hawthorn tree is un-lucky, is a sign of good things to come or that witches make their brooms from its limbs, depends I suppose from which part of the world you hail. There are estimated to be about 200 species of Crataegus scattered throughout North Africa, Central Asia, all of Europe and in North America where it is native.

What Do Hawthorn Trees Smell Like?

The species is bedecked in delicate white to pinkish petals in spring, all except the Holy Thorn of Glastonbury. That individual tree, from which there have been many cuttings to bring it down to the current age, blooms twice thereby securing its reputation as miraculous. The first bloom occurs in the spring and the second flush comes around Christmas time. Before her death, It was a longstanding tradition to send a blooming branch to the Queen to decorate her breakfast table. Apparently she wasn’t affected with the British superstition that taking hawthorn indoors is bad luck. It is easy to imagine how that belief began. The beautiful bloom is not sweet like other members of the rose family, but instead smells like death, rotting flesh to be specific. In fact, scientists have worked out that the same chemical, trimethylamine, that lures the fly to pollinate the hawthorn is also what attracts them to rotting meat.

What Are Hawthorn Trees Good For?

From a utilitarian point of view, hawthorn wood has long been prized as a wood that burns especially hot. It has a wonderful grain that is beloved in wood-carving and is popular to make into talismans. Just like wild rose for Native Americans, hawthorn found use in household furniture and woodware in the role of spiritual protection. In old English writings, the tree was called simply “thorn” as in “oak, ash and thorn”. It wasn’t until American immigrants began to carve farmland out of the wilderness that “haw” was added to the front of the tree’s name. Haw, meaning hedgerow was a nod to the great usefulness of this tree as a windbreak and natural fence.

From such a colorful and conflicted past, emerges a surprising picture of utility in both food and medicine. I have long held the belief that the plants that are the most storied hold much to be desired. The stories seem to function as a way to ensure that the plant in question is never forgotten, much like a shocking ad campaign today means we are likely to remember to use a particular product.

Are Hawthorn Leaves Poisonous?

In truth, at the same time that the British peasant believed that bringing it inside the house was bad luck, it was so commonplace to eat hawthorn leaves that they called it “bread and cheese”. The taste is a bit nutty and mild, though the leaves are best in the spring before they get tough. For most of its written history, this was the main use for leaves. It is only since we have had modern technology available to examine the phytochemicals in the tree that it has become popular to use anything beyond the berries for healthful benefits.

We love the leaves and the flowers for teas. They are beautiful and can be used fresh or dried for a light, floral flavor. You can't go wrong as they don't get bitter, even if you steep them for longer than the typical 10-15 minutes.

What Are Hawthorn Berries Good For?

The red to blue-black berries ripen in the fall and contain large seeds. The flesh is thin and can be nibbled off, but is a bit bitter. Combined with sugar, and perhaps another fruit, they make a delicious and conveniently self-setting jelly as hawthorn berries are high in pectin. Traditionally, this berry has been used for matters of the heart both emotional and physical. They have been traditionally used for angina, arrhythmia, arteriosclerosis, blood clots and to normalize blood pressure. To learn more about the studies being done on this fascinating plant try out a FREE Trial 7-Day membership in my Proactive Health Club!

The flower essence can be understood just by looking at the tree. On the outside, there are large and imposing, protective thorns but inside we find a vulnerability for the heart. Hawthorn is known as a protector and is given to those who feel bullied, alone, disheartened or outraged.

Some of that protection can be felt in a tea, you might try sweetening the tea below with a little bit of Lemony Green Syrup for those days when your child (or you) is feeling out of control.

Calm Kids Tea 

  • 4 tsp Hawthorn berries
  • 2 tsp Hawthorn leaves and flowers
  • 1 tsp Linden
  • 2 tsp Lemon Balm
  • 1 tsp Chamomile


  1. Add the tea to a quart jar and pour boiling water over all.
  2. Cover with a lid and allow to steep for 15 minutes.
  3. Strain and add a bit of honey if desired.
  4. Drink as often as needed or enjoyed.
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