What the Hawthorn Taught Me

These Haws Are Too Young For Harvest.
These Haws are too young for harvest.

When I went out with the Practical Herbalist Team for a bit of mushrooming recently, we got to talking about hawthorn. Our guest asked me how I know it’s time to harvest haws. The whole car went silent.

I, totally unaware of the silence until after I opened my mouth, said “I wait for the trees to tell me. They call, you see, and then I know it’s time to harvest.”

The rest of the team laughed. They’re a little more scientific than am I in recognizing when to take action. We got on to talking about how important it is that the haws are slightly soft so their starches have been converted to sugars and the medicine is most potent. They all agreed that after frost is generally pretty safe, but since some species covert their starches early, it pays to know your species.

What really struck me about that conversation was that I approach my herbalism from a more artistic perspective. I listen to my intuition and heed what the plants say. Sure, I have science behind me, and sometimes I use my science-brain. I know yarrow is for fever and horehound for cough, elecampane for throat and respiratory complaints, hawthorn for heart disease, and the like. It’s not like I can’t get by in that mindset, but so often the artistic approach works faster and easier for me. I know what I need, even if I can’t say the name, and that’s okay, because…well, heck, I’m not a clinical herbalist. I’m an Herbal Artist.

To see some of my Herbal Arts, check out my new portfolio, Herbal Arts.

 

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