Where to find Common Hawthorn
Hawthorn is native across Europe where it grows in abundance on shrubland and woodland. It is commonly planted as a hedgerow plant due to its dense foliage and spiky thorns. It prefers areas with good sunlight but can grow almost anywhere.
How to identify Common Hawthorn
Hawthorn is easiest to identify in Autumn due to its deep red berries or ‘haws’ which grow in clusters. In May look out for white or pink blossoms combined with bright green lobed leaves which grow up to 6cm in length and twigs with pointed spines. It can be confused with Midland Hawthorn which is very similar. If berries are available, you can tell them apart more easily as Midland Hawthorn has two seeds, whereas Common Hawthorn has one.
Uses for Common Hawthorn
When young, the leaves, buds and flowers of Hawthorn are edible and can be used in salads. The berries are also edible, though they are best processed into ketchup, fruit leather, wine and jelly as raw fruits can cause stomach problems.
The wood from Hawthorn can be used for tool handles, cabinets and other applications which require hard wood. It can also be burned as firewood and used to make charcoal.
Hawthorn is very valuable for wildlife and is eaten by a diverse array of birds, insects and mammals, as well as providing a good place for them to shelter.
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