foraging the fairy tree

Hawthorn (genus Crataegus) is native across large parts of the Northern Hemisphere as over 100 different species. With flowering starting in May (and through to June) its many names include the May tree, May blossom, the Fairy Tree and in Welsh draenen wen (white thorn). Its flowering time means its associated with May Day festivities, and was used by witches to ward off evil spirits. 

The young shoots and leaves (like the top left in the picture) are edible*, and we've heard them referred to as 'bread and cheese', while the berries I have seen being given to children to eat* in Portugal: they are high in vitamins B and C and have antioxidant properties. As a natural remedy, hawthorn is said to calm heart palpitations*.

We use both the hawberry and the 5-petaled flower in our Pollination Gin. The flowers have a fragrant, honey-like character, but are overpowering if used in any quantity. So as with many of the 29 different botanical components in Pollination Gin, less is more, as we don't seek to have any single part of the final blend to sit above the others.

*We don't recommend harvesting or digesting wild plants indiscriminately. The foragers code should always be followed, and an understanding of individual plant identification, properties and effects should always be well researched and understood (for example, in this case, raw haw berries have been reported to cause stomach upsets). 

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