It was about this time last year that my interest in learning herbs finally got me onto Hawthorn Berry. As has often been the case for me on this path of discovery, one of the really annoying problems is not knowing how to confidently identify this herb in the wild. I guess I'm one of those that staring at photographs does not really help much. Instead, I need to be outside standing along side some actual herbs while an experienced person looks at me, points and says "this is a Hawthorn Berry plant".
The first one I saw was late last summer. The woman showing me told of how the thorns were so vigorous that they've blown out their truck tires a few times. I'm talking thorns about 2 to 3 inches long....veritable spikes. Many people claim that this plant was used to fashion Christ's crown of thorns. Anyway, it was good education to have this woman show me the crop of Hawthorn Berry trees. By me estimation, they were more like unwieldy shrubs and less like a substantial tree. Anyway, last summer was quite dry. The grove of trees she showed me were somewhat dried out and sickly looking with few berries to speak of..... but at least I got a good firsthand look at this plant.
Just a week ago I was taking a country walk like I do often and of course I was on the lookout for herbs that are on my list of herbs to have. I recall reading some of the nicknames that people have come up with for Hawthorn Berry plants. It sticks in my mind that one of them is "may apple" and another is "may flower. A week ago was the end of May. About half way through the walk I noticed a good sized clump of white flowers growing out of a virgorous bush that was itself growing out of the stumps of a clump of dead trees. As I got closer I noticed an a sweet aroma and this is saying something considering that my sense of smell has really gotten dull the past year or two. It was just before sundown so I got a really good gander at this patch of Hawthorn Berry bushes growing in the wild. First thing I looked for? the thorns. Sure enough, I saw these spikes on the branches, very skinny but close to 2 inches long... and I saw clumps of these tiny white berries that were separate from the clumps of white flowers. This sort of threw me off a bit. As a botanical DIYer, I sort of assumed that the berries would spring from the flowers, but not so on this particular bush. The flowers were quite separate and apart from the berries... I guess this sort of confirms what you had said about the many variations of this plant. So, I've got this lovely bush staked out and will now await the berry-ripening-season....whenever that might be, I dunnot for sure. This patch of bushes is on the border between a farmer's field and a new school under construction.... I can only hope that it make it through the ground clearing phase of this construction job.
One thing I am now sure about is that the flowering of this plant makes it a lot easier for the botantical newby to identify it !
As another confirmation, just in walking the dog around the neighborhood town on a regular basis, there are lots of vacant lots and patches of currently undisturbed land where there are all kinds of thickets "weeds" growing. Across the 1/2 mile or so loop that dog and I walk regularly, I've now identified about 1/2 dozen separate patches of Hawthorn Berry bushes. The interesting thing ( to me) that I've noticed about these local bushes is tha they do not have the same long, skinny thorn spikes. Instead they have the more familiar little nub type thorns like you might find on a rose bush or raspberry. I guess this is another example of the diversity of this plant.
Anyway, for now......we wait, until berry ripening season....whenever that may be... ? (shrug)