Haws, fruit of Hawthorn
3 mins read

Haws, fruit of Hawthorn

Introduction

Haws, the fruit of the hawthorn tree, is a small, red or orange-red berry that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, food, and culture. Belonging to the Rosaceae family, hawthorn is a thorny shrub or small tree that is native to the Northern Hemisphere. With its rich history, nutritional value, and versatility, haws have become a popular ingredient in many parts of the world.

Etymology

The name “hawthorn” is derived from the Old English words “haw” meaning “hedge” and “thorn” meaning “thorny plant”. This refers to the tree’s thorny branches and its traditional use as a hedging plant.

Description

Haws are small, oval-shaped fruits that grow in clusters on the hawthorn tree. They are typically red or orange-red in color, with a sweet and slightly tart taste. The fruit is about 1-2 cm in diameter and has a single seed in the center. The tree itself can grow up to 10 meters tall, with thorny branches and small, white flowers that bloom in spring.

Taxonomy and Cultivars

Hawthorn belongs to the genus Crataegus, which includes over 200 species. Some of the most common species include:

SpeciesDescription
Crataegus monogynaEuropean hawthorn, native to Europe and Western Asia
Crataegus laevigataMidland hawthorn, native to Europe and Western Asia
Crataegus azarolusAzarole hawthorn, native to the Mediterranean region

Distribution and Habitat

Hawthorn is native to the Northern Hemisphere, with a wide distribution across Europe, Asia, and North America. It is commonly found in hedgerows, woodlands, and scrublands.

Cultivation

Hawthorn is a hardy and adaptable tree that can be grown in a variety of conditions. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade.

Production and Uses

Haws are used in various ways, including:

UseDescription
FoodHaws are used in jams, jellies, and desserts
MedicineHawthorn is used in traditional medicine for cardiovascular health and digestion
BeveragesHaws are used to make tea, juice, and wine
CosmeticsHawthorn extract is used in skincare products

Phytochemistry

Haws contain a range of bioactive compounds, including:

CompoundDescription
FlavonoidsAntioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs)Antioxidant and cardiovascular health properties
Vitamins and mineralsRich in vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium

Flavor

Haws have a sweet and slightly tart taste, similar to a combination of apples and berries.

Toxicity

Haws are generally considered safe to consume, but may cause allergic reactions in some individuals.

Nutrition

Haws are a rich source of nutrients, including:

NutrientAmount per 100g
Vitamin C20-30 mg
Potassium200-300 mg
Magnesium10-20 mg
Fiber2-3 g

Culture

Hawthorn has a rich cultural history, with many traditional uses and beliefs. In Celtic mythology, hawthorn was considered a sacred tree, associated with fertility and protection.

“The hawthorn is a symbol of hope and love, and its fruit is a gift from the gods.” – Celtic proverb

In conclusion, haws, the fruit of the hawthorn tree, are a nutritious and versatile ingredient with a rich history and cultural significance. With their sweet and slightly tart taste, they are a popular ingredient in many parts of the world, and their bioactive compounds make them a valuable addition to traditional medicine and modern health products