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Welcome to Dunton Family Farms
Since 1909

Douglas Hawthorn
Crataegus douglasii

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 with thorns."

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.

Other Uses:

  • Modern - Hedges and border fencing.
  • Traditional - 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 Idaho.

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 ripening.

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 Hawthorn thickets.

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 2 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.

Information Sources:

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