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The Hawthorn

UK Garden Centre - Information on the Hawthorn tree

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Family Rosaceae
Crataegus monogyna

Though distributed as a wild tree throughout the length and breadth of the British Isles, we are all more familiar with the Hawthorn as planted material in the construction of hedges, and this is a use to which it has been put ever since land was plotted out and enclosed.
Where the Hawthorn is allowed its natural growth, it attains a height of forty feet, with a circumference between three and ten feet. On our commons, where in their youth the Hawthorns have to submit to much mutilation from browsing animals, their growth is spoiled; but though some of these never become more than bushes tangles up with Blackthorn into small thickets, there are others what form a distinct bole and a round head of branches from ten to twenty feet high, which in late May or early June look like solid masses of snow.
The well-known lobed leaves are very variable in both size and shape, and the degree to which they are cut. They are a favourite food with horses and oxen, who would demolish the hedges that confine them to the fields but for the spines which protect at least the older branches.
The white flowers are about three-quarters of an inch across, borne in numerous corymbs. The pink anthers give relief to the uniform whiteness of the petals. The flowers, though usually sweet-scented, occasionally give forth a very unpleasant odour.
The familiar fruits, too, instead of their usual crimson, are yellow occasionally, as in the Holly. In favourable years these are so plentiful that they quite kill the effect of the dark-green leaves, and when such a tree is seen in the October sunshine, it appears to be glowing with fire. Beneath the ripe, mealy flesh, there is a hard, bony core, in whose cells the seeds are protected from digestion when the fruit has been swallowed by a bird.
The Hawthorn is said to live from a hundred to three hundred years. Its wood is both hard and tough.


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