During the cold winter I tend to look for "living" things. All the plants and trees are asleep waiting for the warm spring sun to waken them.
   The dark red berries or fruit of the Hawthorn is refreshing to see even when the snow tries to cover them up. The birds enjoy the berries and is a staple food for many during the winter. As spring warms the soil and the trees start to wake they soon are covered with beautiful pink or white blossoms. The fragrant flowers are a nice reminder of spring and warm sunny days.
   Scientifically speaking Hawthorns belong to Rosaceae (the rose family). The most often cultivated species and hybrids are Crataegus oxyacantha, Crataegus laevigata and Crataegus monogyna. These Hawthorn species,cultivars and hybrids are known by many names, like Crataegus, English Hawthorn, Mayflower, May Bush, Mayblossom, Quickset, May Tree, Smooth Whitethorn, Thorn-apple Tree, Quickthorn, and Whitehorn.
 
   The Hawthorns have thorns as the name implies and are deciduous. They can be beautiful hardwood trees or shrubs that can be used as hedges. Hawthorn makes good hedgerows, because of the thorns and quick growth. After all the name simply means "thorny hedge." The red berries are called Haws and they are edible.
   The Hawthorn also played a very important role in the Christian tradition. It was believed the Crown of Thorns placed on the head of Jesus Christ was made of Hawthorn.
   Also in Gaelic folklore, the Hawthorn grows in the entrance to the realm of the dead. It is also associated with the fairies, and cutting the tree when not in bloom is believed to be very unlucky.
Now for the other side of Hawthorns, it is a herb used for relaxing nervous tension, a sleeping aid, lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, increase blood circulation to the heart and brain. The flowers, fruit and leaves are used in different forms.
Midland Hawthorn C. laevigata (Poir.) DC
   The leaves are an important medicinal herb used as a tea and is taken for may other conditions. As for all herbs consult with your own health care provider before using and mixing with other medicines.
   It seems like this is one very interesting plant with a very long and interesting history.
 
Dutch Gardens, Inc.
Dutch Gardens, Inc.



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