Factsheet F21: Hawthorns – edible (Crataegus spp.)
The genus Crataegus or hawthorn family is a very diverse genus, containing over 200 species ranging from small shrubs to large trees, originating from many temperate and subtropical regions of the world. It is part of the Rosaceae family which includes apples, pears, plums, cherries etc., with the disadvantage that many of the same pests and diseases can attack hawthorns; however, most hawthorns are hardy and resilient species which are easy plants to grow, tolerating most sites and conditions.
Most, if not all, of the hawthorns have edible fruits, which vary in quality from dull (for example, the native British species C.monogyna and C.laevigata) to delicious (eg. C.jonesiae and C.schraderiana). Several species are also used medicinally. The wood is very hard and strong and useful for tool handles and other small items.