Black Haw Identification:
A large shrub or small tree with a twisted trunk and arching branches. Branches and spur shoots are obviously opposite and right-angled, looks like a fish skeleton.
Leaf: Opposite, simple, pinnately veined, elliptical in shape, very finely serrate, 1 to 3 inches long with a reddish petiole.
Flower: White, appearing in panicles, 2 to 4 inches wide.
Twig: Coarse in appearance and rigid, with dark bark, buds are valvate, red-brown to purple, pubescent and pointed. Flower buds are larger and appear swollen.
Bark: Dark brown to black, broken in square plates—like alligator hide.
Family: Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle)
Other Names: American Sloe, Stagbush, Sweet Viburnum
Flowers: March – May
Parts Used: Root bark in autumn. Stem bark in spring and summer.
Habitat: Native as an understory shrub in the Eastern and Midwestern United States. Connecticut to Florida; Texas to eastern Kansas.
Cultivation: Black Haw grows in full sun to full shade. It prefers moist, well-
drained soils of average fertility, but is adaptable to poor soils, compacted soils, and soils of various pH. It is propagated by rooted stem cuttings, seeds, or transplanting of suckers.
Constituents: Coumarins (including scopoletin), bitter glycoside (viburnin), triterpenoid saponins, salicosides, resin, plant acids (including valeric acid), tannin, arbutin, and trace of volatile oil.
Note: Scopoletin, a coumarin, has been identified as a uterine relaxant and salicin has the analgesic and other effects of salicylates.
Properties: Antidiarrheal, Antasthmatic, Astringent, Hypotensive, Nervine, Sedative, Spasmolytic, Uterine Tonic.
Main Uses: Black Haw is a powerful relaxant of the uterus and is used for dysmenorrhea, false labor pains as well as threatened miscarriage. It is used in the treatment of uterine irritability and hyperasthesia; uterine colic; difficult menses; menstrual pain; intermittent, painful contractions of the pelvic tissues; and relieves spasms after childbirth. Its relaxant and sedative properties are useful in reducing blood pressure. Its anti-spasmodic properties make it a viable treatment for asthma and bronchitis. It helps clear the lungs and throat of mucus.
Preparation and Dosages:
Cold Infusion or Strong Decoction: 3 to 4 ounces up to 4 times a day.
Tincture: [1:5, 50% alcohol] 30 to 90 drops up to 4 times a day.
Note: Do not eat the berries. They may produce nausea and other discomforting symptoms.