Herb: Chinese Haw

Latin name: Crataegus pinnatifida

Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Medicinal use of Chinese Haw:

The fruit is antibacterial, anticholesterolemic, cardiotonic, hypotensive, stomachic, vasodilator. It contains several medically active constituents including flavonoids and organic acids. It has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels and to improve blood circulation. It is used in Korea in the treatment of abdominal distension, pain, diarrhoea and to induce menstruation. The dried fruit is alterative, antiscorbutic, deobstruent, laxative, stimulant and stomachic. The fruits and flowers of 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. The seed is recommended in the treatment of difficult labour, hernia and swollen genitals. The leaves and twigs are used as an antidote to varnish poisoning (from certain Rhus spp). The root is used in the treatment of nausea and vomiting.

Description of the plant:


7 m
(23 feet)



Habitat of the herb:

Riverbanks, on sandy soils or stony slopes. Among shrubs, on slopes at elevations of 100 - 2000 metres.

Edible parts of Chinese Haw:

Fruit - raw or cooked. A pleasant flavour. The orange fruit has a mealy texture with an acid taste and a slight bitterness but is fairly nice raw. It ripens fairly late, specimens seen at the end of October 1998 were not quite fully ripe. The fruit can be used in making pies, preserves, etc, and can also be dried for later use. The fruit is about 15mm in diameter, though in some forms it can be 25mm in diameter. A nutritional analysis is available. 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.

Other uses of the herb:

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

Propagation of Chinese Haw:

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:

Riverbanks, on sandy soils or stony slopes. Among shrubs, on slopes at elevations of 100 - 2000 metres.

Known hazards of Crataegus pinnatifida:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.