Hawthorn Flower Meaning, Symbolism, and Uses You Should Know

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Hawthorn flowers are just as unique and beautiful as their floral name. It appears as a cluster of small dainty flowers on shrubs or small trees. Although it may not seem much, but up close and personal these flowers are very cute yet attractive. 

Hawthorns are used in many fields such as in ornamentals, culinary, and traditional folkloric medicine. It comes in many different colors each with its own unique meaning and symbolism. For example, a white or pink hawthorn flower means fertility or hope. A red one symbolizes a harmonic union.

Growing Hawthorns is not as popular as growing and arranging roses. The big difference of the Hawthorn from Roses is its cute little berries – which are just as sweet and delectable as rosehips!

History of the Hawthorn Plant

Hawthorn is one of the oldest medicinal plants in Europe – tracing its roots back to the Middle century. The plant was first defined in the 12th century as thorny low growing shrubs or a small tree with attractive fragrant double blooms featuring five petals, sharp thorns, green leaves, and sweet fruits.

These spring-flowering plants are from the Crataegus genus of the Rosaceae or Rose family. There are about 280 species of hawthorn trees from the genus Crataegus and the majority of which are shrubs rather than trees. 

The word hawthorn takes after an Old English word Hagathorn from Haga meaning hedge and thorn meaning thorn. Meanwhile, the genus name comes from the Greek words kratos meaning strength. This refers to the very sturdy wood and long lifespan a single trunk of this tree has.

Crataegus plants are native to areas in the northern hemisphere in regions of North Africa, North America, Asia, and Europe. When these flowers first bloom in May, it signals the start of summer. This spring flower blooms with either white, pink, or red petals. 

Hawthorns can go by several different common names such as Thornapple, Hawberry, or the May tree. Some of the major species of hawthorn include the Common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), the Whitehorn (Crataegus laevigata), the Cockspur hawthorn (Crataegus crusgalli), the Washington hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum), and the Downy hawthorn (Crataegus mollis). 

Here are some interesting facts about hawthorns. These spring season flowers love full sun and tolerate partial shade conditions so plant it in the right place. It requires well draining soil or moist soil especially during summer droughts where you should provide regular watering. 

Since hawthorns are perennial, the first year of growth is all about vegetative growth while the next year is all about fruit and flower formation. The best time to plant these sacred trees is from fall to spring so that the first finished flowering falls in the summer!

Hawthorn Symbolism

Since hawthorns are surprisingly known as Maytrees, it is also popularly associated as the birth month flower of May – an indication that summertime has come. It’s surprisingly the May birth flower along with the lily of the valley (or Lady’s tears flower).

In Pagan practices, this may flower during the summer symbolized new life. It’s best to give this flower to early May birthday celebrants. For people born in May to receive these birth flowers symbolizes a new beginning. 

Hawthorn blossoms were symbolic of destructive spells or enchantments. In the county of Devon, a hawthorn flower symbolize bad luck. Many folks believe that if you walked past under the tree, fairies would have cast a spell or enchantment on you without your knowledge!

In Athens, women have passed down traditions about the purpose of Hawthorns in weddings. It was symbolic of female sexuality. Brides traditionally ornamented fresh hawthorns on their partners during the wedding to symbolize hope and new beginnings. As per tradition, they would also carry a bouquet of hawthorns as they walk down the aisle.

Hawthorn flowers in Missouri have also been the official state flower since 1923. So it’s best to give someone hawthorn flowers along with lilies of the valley or calla lilies to create the perfect bouquet.

Meaning of Hawthorn Flowers

The hawthorn tree flower meaning is quite different from its symbolism. In the language of flowers, hawthorns held deep divine symbolic meanings especially with the spirituality of life. 

In other cases such as the beliefs of Devon folk, hawthorn flowers meant witchcraft and warned caution. 

These flowers also meant other ideas such as welcome because it blooms at the start of summer. Sometimes, these would also mean hostility and harshness – depending on the situation of course.

These delicate blooms come in three bright colors. Here are the 3 different hawthorn flower colors and the meaning behind each.

What does a White Hawthorn Flower Mean?

A white hawthorn blossom appears very delicate and charming as they bloom during the summer. Such white flowers often represent the idea of chastity and fertility. Oftentimes, such beauties in bloom also interpret the continuity of life.

What does a Pink Hawthorn Blossom Symbolize?

Hawthorn flowers with pink petals also look like a cluster of beautiful cherry blossoms from Japan. These pink flowers are a beacon of hope when they first bloom. As many confident folks will say, where hope is alive, happiness will prevail.

Also, a pink hawthorn symbolizes youthful vitality and romantic love.

What does a Red Hawthorn Bloom Indicate?

Red hawthorns are the most uncommon floral colors amongst the species. It is a flower that indicates magic and the ability to banish anger or stress. Like that of Athenian customs, red Hawthorns symbolize the harmonic union of very opposite people.

What is the Cultural Significance of a Hawthorn Floret?

The cultural significance of hawthorns is taken from Hymen – who the ancient Greeks regard as god of marriage.

This significance leads to the customs and traditions of Athenian folks at weddings. At the altar, the god was said to be holding a torch made from the wood of the Hawthorn tree. The torch was also believed to light the chambers of the nuptial cave – or in modern-day history, the church! 

Many European weddings now practice such tradition believing it was promising and could be a blessing from the god of marriage. 

Ancient Greek mythology also believe that the flowers were a symbol of a lovely betrothal. Freshly picked hawthorns were said to not only be carried by brides in wedding bouquets but also by the guests to wish the couple a fruitful and long marriage. 

Meanwhile, the early Romans have a different traditional belief for such blossoms. They believed it was a charm against sorcery, placing the leaves on cradles of newborn babies to ward off evil fairies and witches. 

Celtic traditions also encourage hawthorn as a symbol of love and protection. Hawthorn sprigs were used as hair ornaments for brides. In tradition, hawthorns or Ogham trees are magical and are associated with Beltane, an ancient spring festival.

During medieval times, England and Europe believed in the magic of hawthorns because of the ancient festival of Celtic mythology. It was regarded as a tree of love, romance, and fertility.

white hawthorns

What is the Biblical Meaning of a Hawthorn Blossom?

In the Christian faith, there is a religious legend about the symbolism of the hawthorns before Christ. According to the tale, Joseph of Arimathea traveled to Great Britain to spread the message and teachings of Christ.

Weary from his travel and task, he awoke one day to find his staff had taken root on the ground. After some time, the plant grew and bloomed into a magnificent hawthorn tree. It was said to only have bloomed during Christmas and at the end of Spring or the beginning of summer – symbolizing the birth and rebirth after the death of Christ. 

What is the Spiritual Influence of a Hawthorn Flower?

The spiritual influence of hawthorns has a very strong impact on spiritual energy and chakra. It most especially has a strong affinity for engaging with emotions, journeys, and relationships. 

These flowers are a great companion during times of discovery. Its floral presence alone will clarify what path to choose between challenges – either the positive or difficult way of dealing with things. More often than not, it will encourage the surge of energy needed to rise to the test. 

When it comes to emotional baggage, a hawthorn essence can help clear your mind of questioning your worthiness. The soothing sight of these flowers will make sure you don’t doubt your success or wallow in your failure. 

After providing guidance on the journey, the flowers would have changed you into a real, more honorable, and capable individual. And at that – the mind, and soul are ready to show the truth of the heart. 

What are the Folktales Associated with a Hawthorn Bloom?

There are quite a few interesting tales to tell about hawthorns. Hawthorns are said to be the birth month flowers of May because of an old Arthurian myth. In the story, Queen Guinevere rode out during May Day every year to collect white Hawthorn flowers as a symbol of protection to guard against witches.

Many other magical rituals are done on May Day with these flowers. But there is an old custom wherein young men would go into the woods to gather low side branches and decorate their homes with it for protection from evil spirits and good luck.

In Serbian and Croatian folklore, stakes made from hawthorn wood were used to stake vampires and other evil creatures. A similar Gaelic folklore also talks about its affinity for the world of magic. These folks believe that a Maytree was symbolic of the entrance to the underworld and were strongly attached to fairies. 

More traditional tales speak of the charm such flowers have. Early farmers believe in the good luck hawthorns hold. They would practice hanging hawthorn branches or flowers outside cowsheds because they believe it could help produce more cow milk.

What does a Hawthorn Floral Tattoo Symbolize?

Just like the rose, a hawthorn tattoo symbolizes deep affections and pure love. It is a symbol of the hope that prevailed and guided you during your journey of discovery. 

It has a strong affinity for spiritual well-being and will ultimately represent your pure and genuine happiness.

Uses of Hawthorns

Hawthorns are widely cultivated as ornamental flowering plants for their flowers and fruits. It is used in a wide array of products such as food, woodwork, and medicine. The most commonly used parts of the plant include the flowers, the fruits, and the leaves. 

Hawthorns are a popular choice in bridal bouquets and garlands for wedding celebrations – the beautiful flowers have such a sweet fragrance it’s also perfect as dried flowers. It is added as a small filler in most bouquets or vase arrangements

Princess Diana and Kate Middleton both have used these flowers in their royal crown motifs or garments to honor an ancient figure – the Green Man. 

The flowers and berries are used to make food additives in candied fruit slices, jam, and wine. It is also sometimes infused as a tea with sage to help ease menstruation cramps and pains of menopause. 

There are two species used for folkloric medicinal purposes. These include the Crataegus oxycantha and the Crataegus monogyna. The plants are considered a natural remedy and traditional medicine to treat heart palpitations and normalize cardiac rhythm disorders.

The leaves, flowers, and fruits were mainly used for cardiovascular health and sore throats because both have the same chemical compounds to treat it. A word of warning that it’s a must to always consult a medical professional before using this plant or any part of it for medical purposes.

*image by Xalanx/depositphotos

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