Plant of the Month – November 2011

At this time of the year anything helping to fulfill the ‘mellow and fruitful’ criteria for the season gets a big thumbs up from me so I’ve chosen Crataegus monogyna, the Hawthorn.

Hawthorn next to pond

It’s a small, neat tree which always seems to be a pretty shape when grown on a single stem, though it can be grown as a hedge or shrub. It flowers beautifully in spring (giving it the common name of May) and has deliciously crimson berries (haws) in autumn and it’s native. What more could you ask?

Hawthorn berries

The leaves have historically been a fundamental Springtime foodstuff in rural areas which is reflected in another common name of Bread and Cheese. It could only really be better if the berries were more appetising!

It’s supposed to be unlucky to bring the flowers into the house in Spring. They do smell a bit funny and are prime candidates for hayfever but that doesn’t quite seem to justify the negative reputation and I’d love to find out why it’s unlucky. Maybe it’s something to do with pre-Christian springtime celebrations involving the May?

I have an ambition to grow a tree of the Glastonbury Thorn (Crataegus monogyna ‘Biflora’) in my garden, the original of which flowered in Glasonbury both at the normal time and at Christmas, giving rise to the tradition that Joseph of Arimathea planted his staff there and it grew.

Hawthorn in Autumn

So many of our native trees are far too large for the average garden that Hawthorn seems to be to be the perfect choice for someone who wants an attractive small tree for their plot and would like to have a native. I just love the fact it comes with so much folklore too!

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9 responses to “Plant of the Month – November 2011

  1. We have lots of hawthorns round here. (Blackthorn too.)

    You now can laugh at me because I have bought a little cotoneaster plant which I will try to grow upwards. At least, that’s what I think it is – but it is surprising me with lovely red and gold autumn leaves. Is that meant to happen?

    • Ooh yes! I realised this month that Cotoneaster really should have been November’s plant, not Octobers because the leaves are red now. Good luck with your one!

  2. I love Hawthorns because of the folklore I think…what a wonderful native tree!!

  3. I love hawthorn, and you are right to remind us that it makes a great small tree, I always think of it as a hedging plant.

  4. We’ve got several as trees round the entrance and for the Christmas event I always hang candle lanterns in the branches (weather permitting) which looks magical.

  5. Great profile of an interesting tree. I love the color of the fruit–most hawthorn fruit I see is red. We have a very nice US native small hawthorn called green hamthorn, C. viridis, with a wonderful cultivar ‘Winter King’.

  6. Great description – mellow and fruitful. Good hedger but seeing your tree there, realize how much of its diminutitve stature is lost when confined to the borders!

  7. I like the berries of the Hawthorn. So many too. They add so much to a landscape in such a simple way. Cotoneaster is a plant that I have many in my garden.

  8. I love Hawthorns. I think because they are a hedgerow plant they aren’t appreciated enough. Beautiful blossom, lovely berries and great for wildlife.

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