Background: Hawthorn species (Crataegus) belonging to the Rosaceae family is one of the
most commonly used phytopharmaceuticals against mild cardiovascular diseases. The use of medicinal
herbs is regulated by the World Health Organisation regarding their content of toxic elements.
Thus it is important to study the elemental pattern of the plant organs used to ensure safe use on the
one hand and sufficient amounts of essential elements on the other hand.
Method: In the present study leaves and flowers of two Hawthorn species, namely Crataegus
monogyna and Crataegus oxyacantha grown in a remote area were analysed for their contents of essential
and harmful elements by atomic spectrometry. The metal concentrations in the soil were determined
as basis for the calculation of the Biota Soil Accumulation Factor (BSAF).
Results: It was found that all plant parts analysed do not contain toxic elements above the regulated
limits. Furthermore, the uptake pattern of the two plants are different for certain elements, a fact
which can be used for identification of leaves and flowers and for adulteration detection.
Conclusion: White and Red Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna and Crataegus oxyacantha) can be distinguished
not only by shape, structure and colour, but also on their metal concentrations in leaves and
flowers. This fact can be used for identification of leaves and flowers and for adulteration detection.
Leaves and flowers of these two plants grown in the remote area in Croatia do not pose any risk to
humans when used for medicinal purposes.