T.Lilburn's picture

Hawthorn

Observed: 5th June 2013 By: T.LilburnT.Lilburn’s reputation in PlantsT.Lilburn’s reputation in PlantsT.Lilburn’s reputation in PlantsT.Lilburn’s reputation in Plants
IMG_0268closup
Description:
Identifications
Species interactions

Species with which Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) interacts

Comments

the naturalist man's picture

Hawthorn

This is probably the most important tree (except for the oak) in mythology and folklore.

The blossom appears in May (hence its common name May blossom), a traditional time for weddings. Because of this it was the original confetti; in Spain, at least, it is still used as confetti - I've seen whole villages out collecting the blossom for sale as such.

Linked to this and its pure white colour it is linked to purity, chastity and fertility.
This strange duel purpose (chastity and fertility) is a feature of hawthorn in folklore; it protects against evil yet it was believed witches could turn themselves into hawthorn bushes and they always had a hedge of hawthorn protecting their cottages.

Hawthorn is associated with life, being used to decorate Maypoles; in early Christianity it was believed to have healing properties because it was the crown of thorns worn by Christ:

"Christ was of the Virgin born
He was pricked by a thorn,
It never did bell and swell
I trust in Jesus this never will"

Yet it is also associated with death, in Celtic ritual the King and Queen of May were killed when the last blossom fell.

It is associated with fairies, where hawtorn, oak, and ash grow together you will see fairies. Again a duality as it will also protect you from a fairies glimmer (spell). Thomas the Rhymer, a 13th Centuary poet claims he met the Queen of the fairies by a hawthorn tree (for more information refer the Steeleye Span song, Thomas the Rhymer!).

From a conservation point of view it is also very important being second only to oak for the number of invertebrate species living on it.

Graham Banwell

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T.Lilburn's picture

thanks for your comments,

thanks for your comments, that's very interesting and useful info!