You can and should all make Hawthorn Tincture!
Crataegus species (lots of species)
It's easy enough to make, but for the best results you'll need to start in the Spring, harvesting some flowers and young leaf buds, tincturing them, and then following up by pressing that in the fall and adding smashed Hawthorn berries ("haws") that you have harvested at that time.
The flower-&-bud / berry combination is not as sweet as the berries only tincture. The sweetness is there, but it's colored by the taste of the leafbud and flower, making it a bit bitter.
We've made Hawthorn tincture two years in a row, so far.
Odd thing about Hawthorn trees is that given the thousands of varieties and crosses, you'll find some trees with ripe berries in early September, and some trees won't ripen their fruit until much later; and will still contain viable berries until nearly Christmas (in the Great Lakes area).
Some trees have large berries, some have small berries. Some trees don't even have thorns. As mentioned, there are thousands of varieties -- some scientists in the past included scads of named species, but they've mostly stopped doing that because the trees cross so readily, it's counterproductive to be so anal retentive :-). For example, a large cluster of fine looking Hawthorn -- with limbs sticking out right down to the ground, studded with the fiercest 3-inch thorns I've ever seen... these trees have the most abundant flowers in the Spring, but almost no berries develop. I've never seen anything like it and I've been a Hawthorn lover since childhood. We pick flower/bud from this cluster and add berries in the fall from the stone church tree mentioned elsewhere.
Hawthorns of various varieties are often planted by organizations and municipalities, parks, and the like. They are found all over my own rust-belt area. I have not observed or heard much about spraying, but do be careful if you glean from such trees. There's a very picturesque old stone church in town that has some huge (for Hawthorn, anyhow) trees, with branches burdened down to the ground with plump red haws (berries) every year.
Warning: Hawthorn tincture will NEVER be Vegan, because nearly all berries contain minute insects. They're a lot like tiny apples, full of their own tiny worms. Such is life!
We had good results with a variety with tiny little berries, planted by the City or County here. This type has one large seed, instead of several small seeds (arranged similar to an apple).
Mashing them up, crushing them up, grinding them up, and pressing the results is a tougher task than many "herbs," but don't worry about it too much, just do what you can with the strength and equipment you possess.
I am not sure how much of the seed -- which must contain oil -- is useful as an herbal ingredient; the blender and press don't seem to crack many seeds. No doubt the alcohol extracts some of their content. How much, I'm not sure.
Given the fact that Hawthorn is not just an herbal "medicine," but it's also a food, especially a heart food, according to Dr. Christopher and Dr. Schulze
, this tree has got to be one of the most valuable plants around -- in terms of real value. Birds are said to love the berries, which eventually vanish from the trees as winter wears on.
If all year round, you will record the location of useful plants and trees, as well as the harvest dates, which will vary by location, you can probably establish a circuit and harvest from many trees at ground level, eliminating the need to get up high. But if you can only find one or two Hawthorn trees, you may want to bring a step ladder (probably better ask permission, in that case).
Hawthorn berry tincture has a nice taste, though it's not anything you'd probably imbibe for the pleasure of taste alone. But it's not bad at all!
Dr. Richard Schulze
has made several comments on recordings and in literature regarding the very poor condition of Hawthorn berries obtainable from herb dealers. Pick them yourself, from your home area. You will be amazed! They seem to store well in the freezer, too.
I wanted to include some photos of the trees mentioned above, but they are not handy. Will try to add some later.