Herb: Fireberry Hawthorn


Latin name: Crataegus chrysocarpa


Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)



Medicinal use of Fireberry Hawthorn:

A decoction of the dried berries has been used as a mild laxative. A compound decoction of the root has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea. Although no other specific mention has been seen for this species, the fruits and flowers of many hawthorns are well-known in herbal folk medicine as a heart tonic and modern research has borne out this use. The fruits and flowers have a hypotensive effect as well as acting as a direct and mild heart tonic. They are especially indicated in the treatment of weak heart combined with high blood pressure. Prolonged use is necessary for it to be efficacious. It is normally used either as a tea or a tincture.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Tree

Height:
6 m
(20 feet)

Flovering:
May


Scent:
Scented
Tree

Habitat of the herb:

Thickets and rocky ground along streams.

Edible parts of Fireberry Hawthorn:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Used mainly as a famine food. A very pleasant flavour when ripe, with the added bonus of ripening in late summer before most other members of the genus. The fruit can be used in making pies, preserves, etc, and can also be dried for later use. It is about 1cm in diameter and borne in small clusters. There are up to five fairly large seeds in the centre of the fruit, these often stick together and so the effect is of eating a cherry-like fruit with a single seed. A tea can be made from the twigs. (This probably means the young shoots with leaves.)

Other uses of the herb:

Wood - heavy, hard, tough, close-grained. Useful for making tool handles, mallets and other small items.

Propagation of Fireberry Hawthorn:

Seed - this is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame, some of the seed will germinate in the spring, though most will probably take another year. Stored seed can be very slow and erratic to germinate, it should be warm stratified for 3 months at 15C and then cold stratified for another 3 months at 4C. It may still take another 18 months to germinate. Scarifying the seed before stratifying it might reduce this time. Fermenting the seed for a few days in its own pulp may also speed up the germination process. Another possibility is to harvest the seed "green" (as soon as the embryo has fully developed but before the seedcoat hardens) and sow it immediately in a cold frame. If timed well, it can germinate in the spring. If you are only growing small quantities of plants, it is best to pot up the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in individual pots for their first year, planting them out in late spring into nursery beds or their final positions. When growing larger quantities, it might be best to sow them directly outdoors in a seedbed, but with protection from mice and other seed-eating creatures. Grow them on in the seedbed until large enough to plant out, but undercut the roots if they are to be left undisturbed for more than two years.

Cultivation of the herb:

Thickets and rocky ground along streams.

Known hazards of Crataegus chrysocarpa:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.