The Common Hawthorn is a species of hawthorn native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia. Other common names include May, Maythorn, Quickthorn, and Haw.
It is a broadly spreading shrub or small tree 5 - 14 m tall, with a dense crown. The bark is dull brown with vertical orange cracks. The younger stems bear sharp thorns, 1 to 1.5cm long.
The flowers are produced in late spring (May to early June in its native area) in corymbs of 5 - 25 together; each flower is about 1 cm diameter, and has five white petals, numerous red stamens, and a single style; they are moderately fragrant. Later in the year they bear numerous Haws. The Haw is a small, oval dark red fruit about 1 cm long, berry-like, but structurally a pome containing a single seed. Haws are important for wildlife in winter, particularly thrushes and waxwings; these birds eat the haws and disperse the seeds in their droppings.
Common Hawthorn is extensively planted as a hedge plant, especially for agricultural use. Its spines and close branching habit render it effectively stock and human proof with some basic maintenance. The traditional practice of hedge laying is most commonly practiced with this species.
In herbalism the active ingredients are
Flowers: tannins, flavonoids, essential oil, triterpene-carbonic acids and purine derivatives.
Fruits: tannins, flavonoids, pigments and vitamins. An infusion of hawthorn is used to treat various heart and circulatory problems and to support Digitalis therapy. The young leaves are good in salads. The haws are used to make wine, jelly and to add flavour to brandy. Hawthorn jelly or hawthorn flakes are used to aid the digestion of large amounts of meat in Chinese medicine.
Ideal for Hedging and Bonsai