top of page



Hawthorns are a plant from the rose family. They are deciduous which means they shed their leaves for part of the year, and perennial which means they live for more than two years. However, many have survived for over 250 years and, in the UK, "Hethel Old Thorn" is thought to have been planted in the 13th century.

Like most flowering plants, hawthorns are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female reproductive organs. Hawthorn flowers have five white (or occasionally pink) petals in flat-topped clusters that appear in late spring along with green leaves. In autumn, their leaves turn from green to yellow or orange and then drop off, when orange or red fruits start to appear called haws. The common hawthorn has one seed in each fruit, whereas the Midland hawthorn has two seeds in each fruit.


Hawthorns grow in temperate climates in the ground, but can survive in containers.

In London, common hawthorn is more widespread than Midland hawthorn, which is more often found in woodland.

What does it need?

They can grow in full sun or partial shade like light woodland (but not heavy shade), and suit most soil types (but not waterlogged soil which can rot their roots).

What needs it?

Hawthorns are a great resource! Butterflies and moths feed on their nectar (as do bees depending on the quality of the nectar from season to season) whilst small mammals like dormice and birds eat the haw fruit.

Due to their thorny branches and dense foliage, hawthorns are popular nesting sites for birds, and often planted as hedges by humans. We also use the dense hard wood to craft items, and as good fire wood.

The young leaves and flowers can be used in salad, whilst the berries are used in tea, jelly, wine and ketchup.

Hawthorns contain tannins and flavonoids (anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral), so are thought to be good for the heart and circulation.

Fun fact!

Like a lot of other species of trees, hawthorns are believed to be able to poison their neighbours with organic toxins called allelochemicals.

See a video here, and learn more here!

bottom of page