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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - February 22, 2014

From: Williamsport, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Edible Plants, Shrubs
Title: Edibility of Washington Hawthorn berries from Williamsport PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Please tell me if Washington Hawthorn berries and leaves are edible and if so, how to prepare them. Thank you!

ANSWER:

We are Mr. Smarty Plants, not Mr. Smarty Chef, and we are afraid we have no rolodex file of recipes for native edible plants. However, these two articles below have some suggestions on what you can eat and how to prepare it. The gist of this is that you can eat the leaves, just as a snack, and you can eat the berries but NOT the seeds. They are poisonous. If you cook the berries whole, you must very carefully strain the seeds out of the pulp. We understand you must also very carefully strain the berries out of the bushes because they have ferocious thorns guarding the territory. The result of that is that the birds (which can maneuver around the thorns) will likely beat you to the berries anyway.

Eat the Weeds Hawthorn Harvest

Section on Crataegus phaenopyrum (Washington hawthorn) from book Edible Wild Plants

In addition to these two articles, we are listing (at the very bottom of this page) a number of books on edible plants in the Mid-Atlantic states. These may be available at a local library; some of them have ordering information included.

 

From the Image Gallery


Washington hawthorn
Crataegus phaenopyrum

Washington hawthorn
Crataegus phaenopyrum

Washington hawthorn
Crataegus phaenopyrum

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