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Friday, March 19, 2010

Hawthorn, May flower or Crataegus: a plant that cares our hearts

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Hawthorn is a huge species of shrubs and trees that belong to the genus family of Rosaceae. It is usually a fugacious type of tree because of its short trunk of 10-15 meters, many branches and bordered leaves. Due to the fact that hawthorn only blossoms in May, people tend to name it Mayflower. The term Mayflower was also given as a name to a ship. Similar to the tragic event of Titanic, the ship of Mayflower was gone with no evidence except for the preserved Mayflower pictures.
About the plant
Hawthorn or Crataegus is a large genus of trees and shrubs belonging to rose family Rosaceae; it is native to temperate regions of Europe, Asia and North America. It is the state flower of Missouri. The name Hawthorn though applied to Crataegus monogyna or the common Hawthorn native to Northern Europe, here we are mainly concerned with the Asian genus also known as Rhaphiolepis.Rhaphiolepis or the Indian Hawthorn is a small shrub or tree which grows up to a height of 5 to 15 meters. It has tough stem with thorny branches. Thorns on branches are small, 1 to 3 cm long with sharp tips. Barks on stems develop shallow longitudinal fissures with narrow ridges. But so occurs in older trees or bushes only. Leaves of the plant are arranged spirally in clusters on long shoots. These are lobed having serrate margins. These are variable in shape The plants of hawthorn or mayflower flower comes only in color of pink or white having the diameter of 1.2 centimeter and are produced from small to large corymbs. The fruit is a pome which contains 1 to 5 pyrenes that resemble stones of plums. A hawthorn plant blooms berries in various colors such as white, yellow, orange and red, wherein the white color has the strongest scent. While the red color hawthorn berry used to bear one to three fruit buds. It is estimated that the genus contains more than 200 species and a number of species with similar characteristics are yet to be recognized.

 
Image : Crataegus -shoot

Image : Crataegus flowers


Image : Crataegus berries


Medicinal properties
The hawthorn trees or hawthorn plants are embodied with mixtures of flavanoids, which are the ones responsible for the congestive actions of the trees. 
A hawthorn tree is being used in various treatments. Its medicinal properties are effective in supplying treatment for congestive heart insufficiency and recovery, circulatory disorders and bradycardic rhythm disorders. Hawthorn provides strength in the flowing of the blood to the heart as well as restoration of a normal heartbeat. Hawthorn for blood pressure is also a popular usage. The hawthorn berries as well as the flowers can be used as astringents. It can also be used to treat digestive ailments such as diarrhea and vomiting, and sore throats. 

Crataegus species has been used to treat heart disease as far back as the 1st century. By the early 1800s, American doctors were using it to treat circulatory disorders and respiratory illnesses. Traditionally, the berries were used to treat heart problems ranging from irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, chest pain, hardening of the arteries, and heart failure. Today, the leaves and flowers are used medicinally, and there is good evidence that hawthorn can treat mild-to-moderate heart failure.

Other properties of the plant
The Indian hawthorn is a native specimen in the southern part of America but originated from Southern China. It is usually found in the commercial areas and private landscapes. This is simply because of its elaborative pink flowers and bonsai culture. The Indian hawthorn fruit is also a sight to behold. A Vitexin hawthorn berry contains a natural blending and balancing of the world’s purest and finest concentrated extracts but retaining the synergistic benefits of the plant. The importance of hawthorns to the natural environment is greatly appreciated. Aside from the fact that it provides shelter and food for many mammals and bird species, its flowers give nectar-feeding source for the insects. These plants are used as food by larvae and other insect eating food plant species.



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