The May-tree Hawthorn
Updated: Feb 15, 2021
This week’s tree that would be nice to keep an eye out for is the Hawthorn.
May really is the month that Hawthorn comes to life. It is very common and you can see it anywhere from gardens, lanes, verges, hedgerow and woodlands.
It’s spiny bare branches now have a fresh coat of strong leaves and it’s stunning scented white blossom sets it apart from the crowd.
Have a look at our video of the Hawthorn or see the identification traits to look out for below.
Leaves – Feel tough to the touch with tufted hairs, darker green above paler below. They are small with 3-5 deeply divided toothed lobes.
Flowers – They appear initially as tiny white balls in clusters then the white flowers open with a fantastic scent, white flowers with a pink tinge. The mass of leaves and flowers cover the whole tree and the branches droop as they are weighted down with them.
Bark – Orangey and cracked, becoming gnarly with age in older trees.
Value to Wildlife – Hawthorn provides food and shelter to lots birds, small mammals and a variety of insect life so is a very important tree! It’s home to many varieties of moth larvae like Ermines and Lappets, with the leaves a meal for the emerging caterpillars and the Hawthorn shield bug amongst dozens of other insects. Its seeds are sown by the birds, voles, mice that eat them.
History - A Hawthorn can live for over 400 years and remains of it have been found in megalithic tombs. Hawthorn is so engrained in ancient history that its life cycle has become part of village life. From May-day celebrations to weddings, poets and writers have written about the Hawthorn representing human nature, rebirth and fertility.
Mark the fair blooming of the Hawthorn tree,
Who, finely clothed in a robe of white,
Fills full the wanton eye with May’s delight.
Good luck with finding the beautiful Hawthorn tree this week!