User login

Common name: 
Eastern Mayhaw, May Hawthorn
3 - decent flavor

Because it tolerates a wide variety of sites, this species can be used to stabilize banks, for shelterbelts, and to give protection from wind and water erosion[277]. Wood - heavy, hard and strong, but not large enough for commercial use[227]. Useful for making tool handles, mallets and other small items[82]. Although no 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[222]. They are especially indicated in the treatment of weak heart combined with high blood pressure[222]. Prolonged use is necessary for it to be efficacious[222]. It is normally used either as a tea or a tincture[222].

Crataegus aestivalis

Drought tolerant: Yes

Habitats: shade, swamp, woods

Edible Uses: fruit

Medicinal Uses: cardiotonic, hypotensive

Flood tolerant: Yes

Zone hardiness: 4

Family: Rosaceae

Genus: Crataegus

Physical characteristics: deciduous, flower, shrub, tree

A very easily grown plant, it prefers a well-drained moisture retentive loamy soil but is not at all fussy[11, 200, 277]. Once established, it succeeds in excessively moist soils and also tolerates drought[200, 277]. It grows well on a chalk soil and also in heavy clay soils[200]. It thrives in acid soils[160]. A position in full sun is best when plants are being grown for their fruit, they also succeed in semi-shade though fruit yields and quality will be lower in such a position[11, 200]. It succeeds well in exposed positions and tolerates atmospheric pollution[200, 277]. A very hardy species, tolerating temperatures down to about -30°c[160]. This species is closely related to C. opaca and is included in that species by some botanists. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200]. Seedling trees take from 5 - 8 years before they start bearing fruit, though grafted trees will often flower heavily in their third year[K]. The flowers have a foetid smell somewhat like decaying fish. This attracts midges which are the main means of fertilization. When freshly open, the flowers have more pleasant scent with balsamic undertones[245]. Seedlings should not be left in a seedbed for more than 2 years without being transplanted[11]. Occasionally cultivated for its fruit in America, there are some named varieties[183].

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 15°c and then cold stratified for another 3 months at 4°c[164]. It may still take another 18 months to germinate[78]. Scarifying the seed before stratifying it might reduce this time[80]. Fermenting the seed for a few days in its own pulp may also speed up the germination process[K]. 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[80]. 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.
References: [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips. [2] Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications 1972 ISBN 0-486-20459-6 Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references. [11] Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray 1981 A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures. [78] Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co 1948 A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants. [80] McMillan-Browse. P. Hardy Woody Plants from Seed. Grower Books 1985 ISBN 0-901361-21-6 Does not deal with many species but it is very comprehensive on those that it does cover. Not for casual reading. [82] Sargent. C. S. Manual of the Trees of N. America. Dover Publications Inc. New York. 1965 ISBN 0-486-20278-X Two volumes, a comprehensive listing of N. American trees though a bit out of date now. Good details on habitats, some details on plant uses. Not really for the casual reader. [160] Natural Food Institute, Wonder Crops. 1987. 0 Fascinating reading, this is an annual publication. Some reports do seem somewhat exaggerated though. [164] Bird. R. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 4. Thompson and Morgan. 1990 Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation. A good article on Yuccas, one on Sagebrush (Artemesia spp) and another on Chaerophyllum bulbosum. [183] Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications 1990 ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world. [200] Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press 1992 ISBN 0-333-47494-5 Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed. [222] Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. 1990 ISBN 0395467225 A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties. [227] Vines. R.A. Trees of North Texas University of Texas Press. 1982 ISBN 0292780206 A readable guide to the area, it contains descriptions of the plants and their habitats with quite a bit of information on plant uses. [245] Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. 1994 ISBN 0-7090-5440-8 An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations. [277] Plants Database United States Department of Agriculture 0 An online database with an excellent collection of fact sheets about native N. American plants.