Hawthorn is from the rosaceae family, and is common throughout England in hedgerows, woodland and scrub, on all but the poorest soils, up to a height of about 500 m. It is a tough shrub or tree, with a dense mass of branches, 2 – 4 inch-long, deeply cut green leaves, and clusters of sweet-smelling white blossom. Hawthorn fruits (or haws) are about ¼ inch in diameter, glossy, fleshy and single-seeded, which turn from yellow, to a dark-red when mature in the autumn. As its common name implies, May is when the hawthorn blossoms and is seen at its best.
Hawthorns vary greatly in size, but when left wild, usually become a small, rounded tree about 6m tall, although it can grow to 15m. When young, the bark on the irregular-shaped trunk is smooth and greenish-grey or greenish-brown, but when mature, the trunk becomes rough, slightly flaky and a darker, reddish-grey. The twigs are slender and most species have obvious thorns.
Chemical constituents in hawthorn include vitamin C, flavonoids (quercitin, quercitrin), glycosides, proanthocyandins, anthocyanidins, tannins, saponins and cratetegin (most abundant in the flowers, followed by the leaves, then berries).
Today, hawthorn is used in many forms; as a tea, tincture, capsules, paste, and syrup.