Hawthorn, or hawthorne, berries (also called haws) are edible, but there's not much fruit on them. You need a very large handful before you feel anywhere near full. They have a very mild taste, but a good texture. This explains an old English saying that something "wasn't worth a haw." You can also use hawthorn berries in herbal tea mixes, jams and syrups. They are also used in herbal medication, particularly for heart ailments. Hawthorn trees have spread all over Europe, North America and parts of Asia.
Find a hawthorne tree. Just one tree can start dropping a lot of berries in August or September.
Check for bright red, plump berries. They will have only a little give in them as most of the berry consists of a seed.
Bring your container and stepladder to the tree. If you don't have a level patch of ground for the short stepladder, forget it.
Grab the base of the berry where it connects with the tree. The tree leaves can be prickly, but not as painful as a holly bush or a cactus.
Pluck the berries quickly and firmly off of the tree. It doesn't matter how hard you sqeeze. You may have to start with bare hands until you get a good rhythm and then can use thin work gloves.
Check the ground beneath the tree for good haws. Pass over any nibbled, rotten or spotted haws.
Wash and soothe hands.
Rena Sherwood is a writer and Peter Gabriel fan who has lived in America and England. She has studied animals most of her life through direct observation and maintaining a personal library about pets. She has earned an associate degree in liberal arts from Delaware County Community College and a bachelor's degree in English from Millersville University.
Image by Plamen Radev