The Legend

The Hawthorn is a large genus of shrubs and trees in the Rose family (Rosaceae), and is native to North America, Europe and Asia.

Hawthorn: Latin name: (Genus) Crataegus; (Species) C. monogyna or C. oxycanthus.

Sacred to pagans and herbalists alike, the Hawthorn has for centuries been noted for both its mystery and symbolism.

As well as its medicinal properties, it plays a very significant role in the local folk lore here in Glastonbury.

Indeed, it was the Hawthorn (or Holy Thorn) that was said to have grown from Joseph of Arimathea’s staff when, according to legend, he first arrived in Glastonbury from the Holy Land in the first century AD and founded the now world famous Glastonbury Abbey.

Joseph’s Thorn – the hybrid Crataegus monogyna – even today, only grows in Glastonbury and the surrounding area, and flowers both in spring and winter.

The Berries

More broadly, the Hawthorn and its berries have been used over the centuries to treat various conditions, in particular digestive problems and insomnia.

Hawthorn berries are also said to dilate blood vessels and improve circulation as they are rich in antioxidants, and are thus believed to help lower blood pressure and fight bad cholesterol.

Herbalists today indicate Hawthorn Berries in the treatment of several heart and cardiovascular conditions, including angina, congestive heart failure (when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to the body’s organs), cardiac arrhythmia and to generally promote good circulation.

Also of note is that, in Chinese medicine, Hawthorn Berries are used in the treatment of some forms of hepatitis.

For further information on the properties and use of Hawthorn Berries we suggest you consult a qualified herbal or medical practitioner.