Hawthorn Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings and More

Hawthorn Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings and More

Looking for an intricate and beautiful flower with a wealth of symbolism and history behind it for your next tattoo? The hawthorn flower has all of these features and more.

The hawthorn flower has been a part of medical treatments and myths and legends since ancient times. As a tattoo it makes an elegant image, and often represents positive energy and protection.

This article looks at the history, symbolism and popular styles of hawthorn tattoos.


What Is The History of Hawthorn Tattoos?

Hawthorn tattoos are not the most common or well known among the large catalogue of floral tattoos. However, this flower and its depictions  have a long-standing history.

There’s no recorded time for the introduction of the hawthorn into tattoos, but celebration of the image of hawthorn flowers, berries and hedges, goes back to Greek and Celtic mythology.

History of Hawthorn Flowers and Images:

Greeks prized the wood of the hawthorn for its hardy nature, and the latin name referred to the tough wood and sharp thorns.

In Celtic religious history, the Hawthorn was the symbol of Beltane. They were also called Fairy Trees, as their large hedge-like bushes were thought to be homes for some of the Fair Folk.

Chinese, North American Tribal Groups, and European cultures used Hawthorn berries and flowers as a heart tonic, following the example of the Roman Empire.

There are rumors that the ship The Mayflower was named in honor of the Hawthorn plant.


What Do Hawthorn Symbolize?

Hawthorn has a great number of meanings and symbolism connected to flowers, berries and branches. The earliest recorded symbolism comes from the Celtic mythology.

  • In Celtic traditions it symbolizes love and protection
  • In more general meanings, hawthorn can symbolize happiness, optimism, and contentment
  • Because of its delicate appearance, the flowers can also symbolize feminism

Other general meanings can include:

  • Undying wisdom
  • Universal love for those who cross your path
  • Beauty and elegance
  • Unique expression – its representation as the guardian of the fairy realm makes it a representation of those who have a little magic.
  • Fertility – for its abundant growth and edible fruits
  • Abundancy and Longevity – The hawthorn can live for upwards of 400 years

The hawthorn flower is unique in one way: It is one of the few flowers for which there is not a lot of recorded changes in meanings for different colors of the flower.


What Do Hawthorn Tattoos Mean?

The most common meaning for the Hawthorn tattoo is its symbolism as one of the birth flowers of May, in keeping with its connection to Beltane, a festival of spring that is most commonly celebrated today as May Day.

Hawthorn tattoos are generally representative of positive feelings and sentiments.

Wearing a hawthorn tattoo can represent a wish for happiness, or be a statement of one’s own happiness and contentment in life.

For those who have experienced difficulties in life, it can be worn as a symbol of protection against harmful influences.

It can also be used as a visual manifestation of wisdom, longevity and abundance. Those who believe in realizing their dreams through visualization may choose a hawthorn tattoo as form of visual reminder of their goals.

For those who like a touch of the fantastic, the hawthorn tattoo can represent a gateway to magic, as the plant is considered the guardian of the fairie realms. This can also repesent a double meaning, for those who feel like they have a bit of magic in their lives.

Hawthorn tattoos are most often used to represent a personal message, for or about oneself. It’s rare for this tattoo to be used as a representation of another individual.


Where Do Hawthorn Tattoos Usually Go?

Hawthorn tattoos have several common locations for their placement, based on the size and intricacy of the artwork.

The hawthorn is a popular choice to incorporate into sleeves or larger images, which make the upper and lower arms some of the most popular placement choices.

The second most common choices are often the upper thigh, or the center of the back. Both areas allow for large, incredibly detailed images.

Smaller tattoos, such as single blooms, hawthorn berry clusters, or a single flowering branch often find homes in one of three places: The wrist, the ankle, or the chest, just below the shoulder blade.

In a few cases, people have also chosen to place larger detailed blooms on their sides, along the ribcages.


Characteristics and Styles of Hawthorn Tattoos:

One of the unique aspects of Hawthorn tattoos is that they’re depicted both as five-petal flowers, and as berries. They’re also frequently presented as a combination of both.

The berries are usually presented in red, hightlighting the paler colors of the  flowers or offering a contrast to natural skin tone. Berries combined with flowers are usually in bunches of 2-3, whereas berries alone can be arranged in larger clusters of 3-7.

Other common tattoo characteristics for the flowers include:

– Delicate five-petaled flowers, usually with pale colors such as white and pink, or pastel blues and purples.

– The most common depictions for the flowers are either illustrated or realistic designs to highlight the beauty of the hawthorn.

– Sketch designs for this flower tattoo are fairly popular, showing the details of the flower structure.

– The berries are often used in the miniature hawthorn designs, in places like the ankle or the underside of the upper arm.

– Garland style designs with multiple blooms are a fairly popular design, especially for tattoos on the arm, the back and the shoulder.

– It’s unusual for hawthorn flowers or berries to be depicted with other flowers or imagery. They tend to be stand-alone flowers, decorated with berries and foliage of the same plant or delicate interconnecting branches as opposed to other flowers or imagery.



Whatever hawthorn imagery you choose, both flowers and berries offer you a beautiful tattoo with plenty of positive meaning and symbolism. If you’re looking for a delicate floral representation of positive personal values and a little bit of mysticism, then the hawthorn flowers and berries could be the perfect tattoo for you.


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