Botanical name: Crataegus
Common name: Hawthorn
Common in hedgerows, the blossom of these trees is recognised as a harbinger of spring. Small round fruits and autumn leaf colour extend their season of interest. Versatile in use, they can be grown as hedges, shrubs or trees that thrive on a range of soils and in exposed situations. The tree provides a good wildlife habitat, with masses of nectar-rich flowers for insects and autumn berries, known as haws, offering food for birds.
Mature specimens are medium sized trees with pendulous branches along which clusters of small, cup-shaped white or pink-red flowers emerge in spring. Red or orange, elongated berries follow in autumn, often persisting through winter. With dense thorny branches, they also make an excellent hedging plant.
Hawthorns will grow in most soil types, in sun or light shade. They are tolerant of exposed sites and urban pollution.
Hawthorns do not do well in permanently waterlogged soil and will not flower in deep shade.
Did you know?
The old English saying ‘Cast ne’er a clout till may’s out’ (roughly in meaning 'You'll need a coat/warm clothes [clout] until the month of May is over') refers to the likelihood of a late cold snap in spring, just before hawthorns come into flower.
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