What's in Bloom
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Also known as 'Black
Hawthorn,' this species of hawthorn is native to Oregon. On our
farm, It thrives as a dense thicket along a fenceline in the bottoms of
our farm in an area that has standing water much of the year.
Following is the botanical
description from the Oregon State University's website:
Deciduous tree, but may be
shrubby and spread into wide thickets, to 30-40 feet tall, usually with a
long trunk, stout spreading and ascending branches, forming a rounded
crown, armed with thorns 0.8-2.5 cm long. Leaves alternate, simple,
broad obovate to ovate, 2.5-5 cm long, 1.5-4 cm wide, entire near base,
doubly toothed above, often somewhat lobed near apex, thin, smooth and
glossy above, paler below, petiole 13-19 mm long. Flowers white, about
13-15 mm wide, five styles, on long slender stalks, in broad clusters.
Fruit ovoid, reddish-purple to black, glossy, 8-10 mm wide, pulp sweet and
succulent. Sun or part shade. Moist to dry sites.
Because of their multitude
of thorns the English used the hawthorn to make fences to enclose cattle;
the word 'hawthorn' is from the Anglo-Saxon word 'haguthorn' meaning, "fence
The above pictures were taken March 26,
2011. The leaf buds were just starting to emerge. These threes
are basically in a natural state with little or no pruning. If a
more manicured look was desired, they could be maintained as trees.
The thicket near the railroad tracks are simply left as a property barrier
/ wildlife habitat hedgerow.
Food Uses: The fruit may be eaten
raw, but is rather seedy and varying from sweet and juicy to tasteless.
After the seeds are removed it can be used, cooked or mashed, in cakes, in
berry bread, in soups, or in jams and jellies. The berries may also be
steeped to make teas, drinks, or the juice used make wine.
Medicine Uses: Hawthorn is best
known for it use in herbal medicine its positive effects on the heart. It
can be used for high blood pressure and to slow the heart rate. The
effects are gradual and it must be taken regularly for an extended period
to be effective. As a tea it can also be used to treat kidney disease and
nervous conditions. It is often included in weight loss programs.
- Modern - Hedges and border fencing.
- Wood: digging sticks, handles; Thorns: pierce ears, lance boils and
probe skin ulcers, fish hooks; leaves, inner bark, new shoots: burned
together and mixed the ashes with grease to make a black face paint.
Value for Wildfire: Douglas
hawthorn thickets produce an abundant amount of food and cover for
wildlife species. Dried fruits and stems provide autumn food for
frugivorous birds such as blue and sharp-tailed grouse in Washington and
Douglas hawthorn has good structural
diversity, and provides both thermal and hiding cover. Birds such as
magpies and thrushes are especially attracted to Douglas Hawthorn for
cover and nesting due to its thick, intricate branching. Avian use is
heaviest during the nesting/brooding season, and at the time of fruit
During the winter, Douglas Hawthorn
continues to provide dense escape cover. Black-billed magpie nests are
built mainly in the crowns, and long-eared owls will build their nests
atop magpie nests. Small mammals also use Douglas Hawthorn stands for
cover. Deer mice and long-tailed voles can be found living in Douglas
Planting: Grow from seed or
salvage. Seed should be collected as soon as it ripens (late July through
August), because it is harvested quickly by birds. Separate seeds from
pulp and sow seeds immediately in trays containing ordinary soil. Sow very
thickly, because some seeds may not germinate until the second spring, and
place the trays in an unheated area. Seed not planted in the fall needs to
be cold-stratified for 2½ months to break seed dormancy. Plants quickly
develop a long taproot, so they should be transplanted into a permanent
location as soon as possible. Will grow up to two feet per year in the
first couple years. Grows best with sun and moist soils.
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