Columbian Hawthorn (Crataegus columbiana)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Columbian Hawthorn
Crataegus columbiana
Rosaceae

Wood – heavy, hard, tough, close-grained. Useful for making tool handles, mallets and other small items[82].

  • Medicinal Use

    Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the fruits and flowers of many hawthorns are well-known in herbal folk medicine as a heart tonic and modern research has borne out this use. The fruits and flowers have a hypotensive effect as well as acting as a direct and mild heart tonic[222]. They are especially indicated in the treatment of weak heart combined with high blood pressure[222]. Prolonged use is necessary for it to be efficacious[222]. It is normally used either as a tea or a tincture[222].

  • Edible Use

    Fruit – raw or cooked[161, 166]. A very pleasant flavour, it is slightly mealy but juicy and can be eaten in quantity as a dessert fruit[K]. It is also used in making pies, preserves etc and can be dried for later use[161, 177]. The fruit is up to 11mm in diameter and is borne in small clusters[K]. There are up to five fairly large seeds in the centre of the fruit, these often stick together and so the effect is of eating a cherry-like fruit with a single seed[K].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – this is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame, some of the seed will germinate in the spring, though most will probably take another year. Stored seed can be very slow and erratic to germinate, it should be warm stratified for 3 months at 15¡c and then cold stratified for another 3 months at 4¡c[164]. It may still take another 18 months to germinate[78]. Scarifying the seed before stratifying it might reduce this time[80]. Fermenting the seed for a few days in its own pulp may also speed up the germination process[K]. Another possibility is to harvest the seed ‘green’ (as soon as the embryo has fully developed but before the seedcoat hardens) and sow it immediately in a cold frame. If timed well, it can germinate in the spring[80]. If you are only growing small quantities of plants, it is best to pot up the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in individual pots for their first year, planting them out in late spring into nursery beds or their final positions. When growing larger quantities, it might be best to sow them directly outdoors in a seedbed, but with protection from mice and other seed-eating creatures. Grow them on in the seedbed until large enough to plant out, but undercut the roots if they are to be left undisturbed for more than two years.
A very easily grown plant, it prefers a well-drained moisture retentive loamy soil but is not at all fussy[11, 200]. Once established, it succeeds in excessively moist soils and also tolerates drought[200]. It grows well on a chalk soil and also in heavy clay soils[200]. A position in full sun is best when plants are being grown for their fruit, they also succeed in semi-shade though fruit yields and quality will be lower in such a position[11, 200]. Most members of this genus succeed in exposed positions, they also tolerate atmospheric pollution[200]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200]. Seedling trees take from 5 – 8 years before they start bearing fruit, though grafted trees will often flower heavily in their third year[K]. The flowers have a foetid smell somewhat like decaying fish. This attracts midges which are the main means of fertilization. When freshly open, the flowers have more pleasant scent with balsamic undertones[245]. Seedlings should not be left in a seedbed for more than 2 years without being transplanted[11]. This species is closely related to C. douglasii[71].
Western N. America – British Columbia to California, east to Idaho and Oregon.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.