Hawthorn Heralds Summer

May sees The Hawthorn (Crataegus mongyna), or Mayflower is bursting into bloom in our British hedgerows.

Summer has arrived

Summer has arrived

The blooming of the Hawthorn has always been an indicator that summer has arrived, linking it to ancient Beltane festivities, but in recent years it has been found in bloom as early as late April, which experts are using as an indicator of climate change.

Native to Europe, Greece, North Africa and Western Asia and is rich in folklore and legend. Linked with the mytsical home of the Faeries, there are old folklore customs of tying ribbons or rags onto may trees as offerings to the faeries who were thought to live there.

The sweetly scented blossom provides a rich early nectar source for bees, hoverflies and other insects whilst the dense thicket of its branches is home to birds and small mammals.

A long tradition of herbal use surrounds the Hawthorn. The leaves, flowers and berries can all be used as a tonic for the heart. The berries especially are the most effective. Druids used it as a tonic to strengthen an ageing body

The blossom can be drunk as an infusion, said to have a beneficial effect on the heart and circulation.

Delicate white blossoms of the Hawthorn

Delicate white blossoms of the Hawthorn

Young leaves and flowers can be added to salads (If you are pushed)!

A liquor was made from hawthorn buds steeped in brandy.

In later folklore, the Hawthorn becomes a tree of misfortune and bad luck. In Rome, Greece and Britain, the Hawthorn becomes a tree of enforced chastity. No marriages were allowed during the month of May and up to mid June, as it was considered unlucky to marry in the Hawthorn month.

The timber has a close grain and is extremely hard,  it was popular for making small and decorative items, especially those which required a lustrous sheen.

You may also be interested in:

%d bloggers like this: