Hawthorn, or hawthorne, berries (also called haws) are edible, but there's not much fruit on them. You need a very large handful before you feel anywhere near full. They have a very mild taste, but a good texture. This explains an old English saying that something "wasn't worth a haw." You can also use hawthorn berries in herbal tea mixes, jams and syrups. They are also used in herbal medication, particularly for heart ailments. Hawthorn trees have spread all over Europe, North America and parts of Asia.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Collecting basket or equivilent container
- Steady stepladder (optional)
Find a Hawthorne tree. Just one tree can start dropping a lot of berries in August or September.
Check for bright red, plump berries. They will have only a little give in them as most of the berry consists of a seed.
Bring your container and stepladder to the tree. If you don't have a level patch of ground for the short stepladder, forget it.
Grab the base of the berry where it connects with the tree. The tree leaves can be prickly, but not as painful as a holly bush or a cactus.
Pluck the berries quickly and firmly off of the tree. It doesn't matter how hard you sqeeze. You may have to start with bare hands until you get a good rhythm and then can use thin work gloves.
Check the ground beneath the tree for good haws. Pass over any nibbled, rotten or spotted haws.
Wash and soothe hands.
Tips and warnings
- Don't gobble handfulls of haws if you've never eaten them before as they can upset your digestive system. Start with a few and then gradually eat more.
- Don't pick haws if you can't tell them from holly berries, which are poisonous. Holly berries grow in a bush and are waxy in feel.
- Stop eating hawthorn berries if you suddenly develop any strange physical symptoms like a rash, dizziness, headache or sudden sweating.
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