Hawthorn berry and leaf

Crataegus Monogyna/Laevigata

Hawthorn is a deciduous thorny shrub or small tree that grows up to 10m (30ft) in height, with axillary spines of which the longest is on the short flowering shoots. The stems are smooth and reddish/brown when young, turning grey with age. The dark to mid-green (paler below) solitary leaves are grouped in clusters on short shoots with 3 – 5 lobules and deltoid to rhombic in shape. The white (sometimes pink or red) flowers are arranged in groups of 5 – 10 at the apex of small branches. The anthers are red to pale pink. The dark red false fruits are oval and contain a small kernel which is the real fruit.

Family: Rosaceae

Which probiotic is it in?: Hawthorn berry and leaf are key ingredients in Sustain

Habit and cultivation: Native to the British Isles and Northern temperate regions of the world, it was introduced to New Zealand and Australia during the last century as a hedging plant. It grows on waste ground, road sides and grassy hillsides. It can be propagated from seed and takes around 18 months to germinate so it is more common to be cultivated from cuttings. The flowering tops are harvested in late spring and the berries in late summer to early autumn.

Actions (known for): Anti-arrhythmic, anti-oxidant, cardiotonic, hypotensive and vasodilator.


Derived from the Greek word Kratos meaning hardness (of the wood), haw is an old word for hedge. Many English country folk believe that hawthorn flowers still smell like the Great Plague of London. Formerly regarded as sacred as it furnished the Crown or Thorns. Traditionally used in Europe for kidney and bladder stones and as a diuretic; 16th and 18th century herbalists Gerard, Culpeper and K’Eogh have all recorded its use in these instances, also as a gargle in sore throats, colic and externally to draw splinters. Its current use for circulatory and cardiac problems stems from the successful use by Irish physician Dr. Green towards the end of the 19th century.

Parts used:

Leaves, flowers and berries.

Constituents (bio available chemicals):

Flavonoids, oligomeric procyanidins, anthocyanins, triterpenoids and cardiotonic amines.

Nutritional constituents:

Vitamins: C (40-60g) in berries, carotene, B1, B2, E and P. Minerals: calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, sodium, sulphur, copper, manganese, aluminium, beryllium, cadmium and lead. Several amino acids are found in the flowers and chlorophyll in the leaves.


Angina, hypotension, hypertension, chronic heart failure, ectopic beat, valvular insufficiency, atheroma, oedoma and dyspnoea of cardiac origin, tachycardia, arrhythmia, atherosclerosis and chilblains.


Liquid extract: (1:2): 20 – 40ml per week. Dried herb in any form: 0.2 – 1g 3 x daily. Mills states that the action of Crataegeus is gentle but cumulative, so low doses for a minimum of 2 months is likely to be required.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia

Cautions for therapeutic doses

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