What is the Mayhaw?
The mayhaw (crataegus opaca) is a fruit about 1/2" to 1" in diameter. Ripe from mid-April through early May, its fruit color varies from bright red to reddish yellow. It is not a desirable berry for eating raw.
The mayhaw is a Hawthorne native to the southeastern states that is normally a 20 - 30 foot tree at maturity. Usually found in low, wet, slightly acid areas, mayhaws produce best on good upland soils in full sun.
The mayhaw normally flowers in February and March. Ball-shaped at maturity, the mayhaw tree makes a beautiful ornamental.
Historically, Mayhaws have been harvested in backwoods sloughs, swamps, and river bottoms. Boats are sometimes utilized in the harvest of wild mayhaws. Limbs are shaken over the boat and nets are used to scoop them out of the water. Accessibility has dwindled over the years as developers have cleared the woodlands. Commercial and home orchards are now being created with grafted mayhaws.
Louisiana mayhaws are also being utilized by the Louisiana Department of Agricultrue and Forestry and the USDA for reforestation as a wildlife food.
The mayhaw is best known for the delicious, unique jelly that has been a southern favorite for generations. There are endless possibilities for processed mayhaws such as flavoring, butter, jam, sauces, pie filling, coffee cakes, ice cream, wine, etc.