Black Hawthorn

I’ve decided I want to make a trek to a local park or wild spot once a week to meditate and get into nature. I also want to start making not of what plant and animal life I come across. This last week I identified some Black Hawthorn growing in a local park.

Black Hawthorn, Crataegus douglasii is the only hawthorn that grows as a tree in British Columbia (that’s where I live *grin*). I harvested some dead fall branches and took some photos. I figure if I make an effort every time I go to learn something eventually I’ll be a Wildcrafted Druid. After all what good is a Druid that doesn’t know his trees eh? Let alone how his local ecosystem works.

Crataegus is derived from a Greek ‘kratos’ meaning “strength”.  Douglasii, named for David Douglas, plant explorer. The word ‘hawthorn’ derives from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘haguthorn’ which means a ‘fence with thorns’. Haw is either an old word for hedge or a word for apple (fruit). The references I found were mixed.

Black Hawthorn is a strong wood. Traditionally the wood was used for such things as digging sticks, handles. The wood also burns hot, so it was favoured for cooking and smithing fires. The thorns were used to pierce ears, lance boils or used as fish hooks. The leaves, new shoots and inner bark were burned and mixed with ash and grease for black face paint.

Black Hawthorn is part of the rosaceae (rose) family. It grows from sea level to mid elevations. It tends to grow in thickets as a small tree or a large shrub in meadows or along waterways. It likes lots of sunlight.
Flowers appear in clusters having 5 white petals with an unpleasant odour. Blooms in May to June.
Fruits also appear in clusters and can be red, purple or blackish. Fruits are edible and sweet, but seedy.
Leaves are oval, deep green in colour and toothed at the top.
Bark is reddish brown with thorns that protect the tender shoots and leaves.
It can be propagated readily from bare root, cuttings or seeds. Seedlings are hardy.
Its lifespan is moderate relative to most other plant species.
Its growth rate is moderate.
Hawthorn thickets grow thick and offer protection and food to birds and small animals.
Hawthorn growing along waterways help keep prevent soil erosion.

Hawthorn has been used medically for heart ailments and high blood pressure. It aids in kidney disease, nervous conditions and has also been know to aid in weight loss. Hawthorn can be taken to help combat Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory loss, arthritis, osteoporosis, leukemia and attention deficit disorder.

Doses must be taken regularly and must be taken over an extended period of time to be effective. Parts used include fresh and dried fruits, leaves and flowers.


Trees in Canada by John L. Farrar
A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve
Perscription for Herbal Healing by Phyllis A. Blach


~ by Solaren on May 19, 2009.

3 Responses to “Black Hawthorn”

  1. What do you plan on doing with that you have harvested? I am interested 🙂

  2. Well, I have a few things in mind.

    Hawthorne is one of the Nine Sacred Woods so I am saving some to use to kindle Sacred Fire for the Celtic High Days. Bits and pieces will also make their way into various incense blends and such as Hawthorne is considered a gateway to the Otherworld. I will save some of the thorns for use in healing, protection or offensive magic should the need arise. The thorns were used in healing because they worked well as early forms of needles, and were used for everything from lancing boils to sticking into poppets. I want to save a nice piece of the wood for my collection of the Ogham woods. (I have a very nice large piece if Ivy wood already, which is the hardest to find in a good size). The flowers are very much tied to the Goddess of the May. The branch section in the photo has the feel of a mace/morning star feel to it. It would make a nice wand with the thorns still attached. I am not much for wands, it must be the Druid in me. I have put that piece in the window to use as a protective charm. I would also like to grow a baby Hawthorne from seed, or find a small tree to take home. It would make a nice bonsai.

  3. I have three huge Hawthorn trees on my property,on the north…south and west corners. They are at least 50 years old. Come spring I will endevour to fill the remaining corner.
    To say I feel blessed and protected is putting it mildly.
    Stay safe…J.

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