Midland hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) is a deciduous shrub from family Rosaceae, growing to 6 m at a medium rate. Other names are Smooth hawthorn and English Hawthorn. It is in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen from September to November, it is noted for attracting wildlife and it’s not frost tender, very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to at least -18°c. It can grow in full shade, semi-shade or no shade. A position in full sun is best when plants are being grown for their fruit. It can tolerate drought, strong winds but not maritime exposure. The fruit is about 1cm in diameter, can be used for jams and preserves. The fruit pulp can be dried, ground into a meal and mixed with flour in making bread. 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. Young leaves and young shoots are nice in a salad, young leaves are a tea substitute, the roasted seed is a coffee substitute.
Hawthorn is an extremely valuable medicinal herb. It is used mainly for treating disorders of the heart and circulation system, especially angina. The fruits and flowers have a hypotensive effect as well as acting as a direct and mild heart tonic. They are especially indicated in the treatment of weak heart combined with high blood pressure. Hawthorn is combined with ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) to enhance poor memory, working by improving the blood supply to the brain.