News and Blog Articles
News and Blog Articles
Our next tree of the month is the mayhaw, a type of hawthorn tree known for its sweetly tart berries. This native species can be found all throughout the southeast, and is popular both for the brilliant and variegated colors of its berries as well as the delicious jams and syrups made from those berries.
The mayhaw tree, scientifically classified as Crataegus aestivales, prefers to grow in moist soils and can be found along river and creek beds under the cover of hardwood trees. They’re pretty hardy, though, and can adapt to dryer environments, like your backyard! In the wild, they grow mostly as trees, though if they don’t have enough space, they’ll spread out more like a shrub. If you plant one, you can cultivate it however you’d like.
Where other plants might wither or crisp in the hot Georgia sun, mayhaws actually love it. They prefer full sun exposure, or at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day, making them a great choice for Southern landscaping. They can tolerate partial shade if necessary, though, so don’t worry if your yard doesn’t get sun all day.
Because they grow fairly quickly and densely, mayhaws are a great choice to create a privacy screen or hedge. They also offer cooling shade if grown into tree form rather than bush form. Though potentially susceptible to rust, mayhaws are surprisingly resistant to most diseases, even those known for impacting other hawthorn species.
The leaves of the mayhaw have a pretty classic leaf shape, with subtle parallel lobes on either side. They have fairly prominent ribbing, and take on a deep, warm green color in early spring, which contrasts nicely against the bright white flowers.
Mayhaws are technically in the rose family (and they have the thorns to prove it!) but their blooms don’t look much like roses. Instead, they have five white petals surrounding a greenish-yellow center with multiple dark stamens. These flowers start popping up in early spring before giving way to the edible mayhaw berries. The small fruits start out small and green, but soon transition to a bright cranberry red when fully ripened.
Though berries can often be seen well into June and July, mayhaw berries are usually harvested in May, which is where they get their name. Eaten raw, mayhaw berries are incredibly tart. However, if you live in the South, then you’re probably familiar with mayhaw jelly. This popular spread is the perfect balance of the tart berries coupled with sweet sugar, and makes a perfect topping for toast or filling for a pie. Mayhaw berries are also the main ingredient in mayhaw syrup, which can be spread on pancakes, drizzled over sausage, or added to other recipes.
Emily Casuccio is sister and sister-in-law to Rebekah and Scott Rushing, and has over half a decade of experience in copywriting, copyediting, proofreading, and developmental storyboarding. She's worked with both published and undiscovered authors on both fiction and nonfiction, and takes pride in supporting local businesses. Her passion lies in the written word and helping authors of all capacities realize their dreams and achieve their fullest potential. To learn more about her, read samples of her work, or contact her, visit her online portfolio.