Hawthorn, protector of heart and home

Just like the Elder, the Hawthorn is an indispensable part of our landscape and our lives. Far too little do we realize that shrubs and trees literally fill the landscape and life. Garden and nature fill the empty space and, just like an interior, give us a familiar feeling and structure for our daily actions. Big words to introduce an ordinary bush. And yet true! What can replace the long lines of the hawthorn in a hedgerow landscape? Or the jagged bushes at the edge of a meadow, where the cows provide shade or rub their fur? Or what would I be without my memory of that whimsical Ardennes hawthorn, the only survivor of an old hedge. Traces in the landscape leave traces in myself. Dealing emotionally with nature is essential, although that does not mean we should lose our minds. Reason is a guardian of feeling.
And my mind demands the termination, botanical descriptions. Is it the one- or two-style hawthorn. Do the fruits contain 1 or 2 seeds? Is the leaf blade ovoid, lobed or pinnate? The Crataegus laevigata, the Two-Style is one of the most widespread shrubs in Belgian nature.
It is a thorn (shrub) that blooms in May, which explains its name. These are also the white blossoms that are harvested early in flowering and dried together with the little leaves between the flowers to make a tea or tincture .
The best way to pick is to cut off the 60cm long flowering terminal branches, dry them whole and only then zip off the flowers with leaves (folium cum flore) from the branches. Be sure to wear gloves!
You get a second chance to pick in September, because the ripe, red berries can also be used. They are certainly suitable for making a liqueur together with 30% alcohol. Another option is to steep them in liquid honey for 1 week. An excellent heart remedy!

What’s in it? What does it do?

As with many herbs, scientific research has only started in recent years. Hawthorn mainly contains flavonoids and proanthocyanidins, substances that are responsible for the blood pressure lowering and heart rate regulating effect, especially the oxygen supply to the heart muscle is improved. By knowing these substances, we can better control the quality of the herbal preparations and get a better and regular effect. It is remarkable that the same active ingredients are present in such different parts of the hawthorn, white flowers, green leaves and red berries.
Procyanidins (OPC) are even isolated from other plants such as maritime pine and sold separately as a nutritional supplement. These substances have a strong antioxidant effect and promote the elasticity of the small blood vessels.
Hawthorn is best used for the elderly heart or to reduce the consequences of a heart attack. Furthermore, the plant can also be used for elevated blood pressure, possibly combining it with the diuretic Goldenrod or for arrhythmias, in which case a mixture with Lemon Balm or Hartgespan is very suitable. Due to its strengthening effect on the heart muscle, the plant can also be used in endurance sports. Not a real stimulant, but it does ensure that your heart can sustain an effort for longer.
Characteristic of modern natural medicine is the use of traditional herbs with a scientifically well-substantiated effect and with as few side effects as possible. Hawthorn is a good example of this, it is our basic plant for the heart and blood vessels.

Used differently in the past

Only at the end of the 19th century was Hawthorn used for the heart, before that time the plant was mainly known for its tanning effect. Dodoens in 1664 writes that the fruit of the lizard ears stops the cycle and the menstruation of women, Munting 1696 also refers to the astringent effect of the fruits and seeds. Many of these applications go back to the Greek physician Dioscorides.
In the use of the seeds against bladder and kidney stones, we recognize the age-old signature theory, which says that the appearance of the plant shows us what the plant is internally good for. Thus Munting says that the stones, pulverized and ingested with wine, break and float out of the Bladder and Kidney Stone.
Also striking is the use of the root plaster-wise applied to the wounds, which removed all the steel, iron, splinters and similar things contained therein. So as a kind of plasticizing compress like we still use Linseed.

Hard wood for hedges

Due to its hard wood, its thorns and because it is easy to prune, the Hawthorn remains particularly suitable as a natural fence for gardens and meadows. In our herbaceous ornamental garden it is extra attractive because of its health value and also because it ensures that nesting birds are less threatened by hungry cats.
Meido orn is also said to protect against lightning strikes, a use that is prominently found in ancient writings. Unfortunately, the hawthorn is also host to pear fire, a bacterium that can cause a lot of damage to fruit crops. But to cut down or eradicate all the hawthorn hedges for this purpose is going way too far for me.
A mixed hedge with Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Rosehip and Cardinal’s Hat remains the ideal barrier for me, it provides an impenetrable barrier to my house, but remains friendly until late autumn due to its brightly colored fruits, which can then be eaten. are also.

Other uses, other hawthorns

The mealy berries with their large seeds are not exactly my favorite food, but they can still give a liqueur a nice color and a good aroma. Kernels have also been found in various archaeological sites. In North America, the berries were dried for use as food in the winter. Such a mealy fruit is also easy to dry and can then be used without seeds in cookie or bread dough.
In China, several Hawthorn species are popular as food and medicine. Crataegus aronia, a species with fleshy berries, is processed into jam and even used as a sweet . The dried berries of Crataegus pinnatifida are also important as a digestive medicine.
In our time of plenty, we no longer really need hawthorn berries as food, but as a wild addition to our cultivated diet, a mixed jam of hawthorn berries with apple or with plums can literally support our hearts.


500 gr. hawthorn fruits together with 500 gr. Boil the sour apples to a pulp, add a little water or apple juice if necessary, coarsely sift, weigh the remaining fine pulp and reduce to a jam with the same amount of sugar. Many variations are possible, especially juicy small fruit can be combined well with the dry Mayberry, or try the blackcurrant or the colorful Mahonia aquifolium.
Hawthorn as protector of home, garden, sacred places and our hearts. It would really be sacrilege if we were to banish such a plant from our environment and from our hearts. Our hearts would literally and figuratively suffer.

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