Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden
The common hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna (occasionally incorrectly labelled Crataegus oxyacantha), is also sometimes called English hawthorn, haw, may, mayblossom, maythorn, motherdie, quickthorn, red hawthorn or whitethorn. Its close relative, the Midland hawthorn, is C. laevigata which has most of the same synonyms and can be used for all the same purposes.
Both the common and the Midland hawthorn are large deciduous shrubs, the former reaching a height of 5-14m with thorns where present up to 1.5cm long and leaves 2-4cm long, while the Midland hawthorn reaches a height and spread of around 5m and has leaves up to 6cm long.
Hawthorn is a very tough plant which will happily put up with almost any conditions, not fussy as to soil – it can grow even in heavy clay or nutritionally poor soil, and will tolerate both very acid and very alkaline soil. It prefers moist or wet soil, but will tolerate drought, and it will also put up with maritime exposure and atmospheric pollution. The only thing that will discourage it is full shade, but there are few green plants that can cope with that.
Hawthorn is used mainly for treating disorders of the heart and circulation system, especially angina. The fruit contains bioflavonoids which increase blood flow to the heart, restore normal heartbeat and help prevent or reduce degeneration of the blood vessels. Both fruit and flowers can be used to treat high blood pressure, for arteriosclerosis and for nervous heart problems. However, prolonged use is necessary for the treatment to be effective. Make a standard infusion of flowers or fruit for any of these uses.
Hawthorn can also be combined with ginkgo to improve memory.
I offer a selection of hawthorn products in my online shop.
As I’ve said numerous times before, when growing for medicinal use, it’s important to use organic methods, to avoid adulteration of the final remedy. To find out more about growing organic herbs, visit the Gardenzone.