A. Flowering Plants
More extensive information on flowering plants can be found in a separate blog post.
B. Roses (ROSACEAE)
The Rose family gives us many of our most commercially important fruits, such as the Prunus species. They have alternate leaves and 5-petalled flowers.
C. Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
The white flowers in May of this native small tree are followed by the crimson berries called haws. Hawthorn wood is hard with a fine grain, and polishes well. It has been used for walking sticks, handles for knives and daggers, and for turning.
Extracts from the flowers and berries are astringent and useful for sore throats, and as a diuretic for dropsy and kidney ailments. A cardiac tonic is made from the leaves and berries. To draw out splinters, make an infusion of hawthorn leaves in boiling water and use to soak muslin to place on the affected area. Crushed berries work similarly.
Pick the young leaves in May, and the flowers shortly after, but do not use the stalks as they have a bitter taste. When young leaves are chewed they develop a taste like bread and cheese. Pick the haws after frost. Buds and leaves together can be chopped up to make a salad vegetable, which is particularly good when mixed with potato or beetroot salads. The leaves may be added to stews and casseroles. Hawthorn flowers make a good wine, and also a liqueur.
Recipe for Hawthorn Flower Liqueur
Fill a 1 lb (450g) Kilner jar with flowers, compacted, and cover with brandy or whisky. After about two weeks, filter and add 1 tbsp sugar dissolved in the minimum of hot water. Allow to cool, then bottle.
Recipe for May Cup
Another traditional drink is May Wine Cup.
6 tbsp of hawthorn flowers 4 lemon balm leaves
4 thinly pared strips of orange rind 1 bottle of dry white wine.
Put all the ingredients in together, cover and leave in a cool place for 1-2 days. Strain and serve chilled. Add a little brandy for a stronger flavour.
When the berries are available they make a tasty jelly.
Recipe for Hawthorn Jelly
3 lb (1.4 kg) haws 2 pt (1200ml) water
the juice of 3 lemons sugar.
Simmer the berries in the water for an hour, mashing thoroughly. When soft, strain them through a jelly bag overnight. For each pint (600ml) of liquid obtained add 1 lb (450g) sugar. Heat and stir to dissolve the sugar, add the lemon juice and boil rapidly until the setting point is reached. This jelly is often served with rich meats like game and lamb.
You could also try hawthorn and crab apple jelly, by using 1 lb (450g) haws and 2 lb (900g) crab apples, with 1 pint (600ml) water and the juice of 1 lemon.
Haw wine is full of flavour, but should be stored for about a year before drinking.