Black Hawthorn is a large deciduous shrub with 1-3 cm straight thorns. It has dark green, thick leaves with lobes at the top and blackish purple apple-like berries that grow in clusters. Black Hawthorn has a long history of importance among First Nations peoples in British Columbia, specifically for the thorns as needles and fish hooks, but also many other parts of the shrub were used.
|Height and Spread
||Up to 8 m tall.
||Up to 5 m spread.
||Pinkish white in thick clusters.
||Leaves are dark green and fan shaped with 5 – 9 ‘teeth’ or lobes on the top edge.
||Black Hawthorn berries ripen in late summer.
|Light and Water
||Grows from low to mid elevations in moderately shaded to open forests.
||Often will grow near streams and lakes, though can also flourish in dryer climates.
||Black Hawthorn has many important ethnobotanical uses. Interior First Nations peoples used the thorns for probing skin blisters and boils, piercing ears, and as fish hooks. The berries were also important, considered to have medicinal properties good against diarrhea. The bark was also used to treat diarrhea and other stomach pains.
||While Black Hawthorn berries are sometimes used by peoples medicinally or as a food source, predominantly they are used by wildlife. The apple-like berries are commonly eaten by many bird species as well as by black bears in the south interior. The thick growth of Black Hawthorn along with its many thorns also provides protective habitat for bird and small mammal species.
||Black Hawthorn is a wonderful ornamental addition to any garden with its picturesque clusters of white blossoms in May, long thorns, and berries that ripen from reddish purple to black in late summer. Due to its sharp thorns one shouldn’t plant in where it might obstruct walking or be run into. In a garden setting Black Hawthorn prefers open sunlight and a moderate amount of water.
||The latin name for Black Hawthorn, Crataegus, comes from a Greek word meaning strength, due to the great strength of the wood.
||Black Hawthorn can be propagated by either cuttings or seed. One of the most successful propagation techniques is to collect bear droppings in late summer when Black Hawthorn berries are ripe. The digestion process increases the germination rate of the hawthorn seeds. Cuttings may also be used but due to the availability of seeds this method is less commonly used.