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Irish native Hawthorn ... Crataegus monogyna .. Sceach Gheal


 
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James Kilkelly, was GPI.
Rank: Site Admin


Joined: 30 May 2006
Posts: 1964
Location: West of Ireland

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 6:08 pm    Post subject: Irish native Hawthorn ... Crataegus monogyna .. Sceach Gheal Reply with quote

Irish native Hawthorn ... Crataegus monogyna .. Sceach Gheal

Our native fairy tree, the hawthorn is surprisingly also native to North Africa, as well as Western Asia and most of Europe. We have, sprinkled throughout our Irish myth and legend, many references to hawthorn or whitethorn and its connection with the fairy folk. It was once believed that to place a sprig of fairy hawthorn in your milking parlour would cause your cows to supply extra pints of creamier milk.

To this very day, there are still farmers who plough a wide circle around lone hawthorn trees, avoiding all contact between tilling implement and root, for fear of offending the fairies that supposedly inhabit the tree. Now, I would be quick to dismiss all this as superstition but for the many tales of misfortune that befell farmers and contractors who took plough, digger or saw to a single hawthorn specimen. There may be some truth to these stories, but then again, maybe the fables were concocted and spread by early members of the tree hugger and environmentalist fraternity.


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Maloideae
Genus: Crataegus
Species: C. monogyna

Hawthorn may be known by any number of common names....
Hagthorn, Haw, May, Mayflower, Mayblossom, Maythorn, Maybush, Bread and Cheese Tree, Quickset or Quickthorn,

Heaps of hawthorn.
Whatever about the legends, I can confidently tell you that hawthorn or Crataegus monogyna is one of the most common small trees/large shrubs grown in Ireland. It is sometimes grown as individual trees, but it is more common to see it grown in a closely planted row as a hedge or screen. It is the ideal candidate for this, as young hawthorn plants grow strongly with many thorny branches and side-shoots. This quickly forms a thicket, which makes for a virtually stock-proof hedge.

Another reason why hawthorn is selected as a hedging plant is because it is very tolerant of clipping, even possessing the ability to re-sprout if cut back to ground level. The exponents of the traditional craft of hedge laying sing the praises of the hawthorn, as it lends itself well to their techniques, which consist of partially cutting through the stem at ground level and bending it over, a very effective way of hedge thickening.

Hawthorn identification.
Whether you fall under the heading of hedge planter or fairy hunter, here is how to identify our native hawthorn, when out and about...

A bushy tree, hawthorn grows on average, to a height and spread of 6 metres.

Unlike blackthorn whose stems are dark, the stems of hawthorn are light grey turning to a pinkish brown colour with age, which is also when character filled cracks start to appear up along the trunk. Most of the young twigs sprouting from the tree emerge red before going through these colour changes.

The glossy green leaves are between 20 to 30mm long and are divided into 3, 5 or 7 deeply cut lobes. The tree comes into leaf at the end March.

It is in flower from May to June with 5-petalled white flowers, which unfortunately have an unpleasant smell to some. You see, up close the flowers have a faint scent of rotting meat, this allows pollination of the flowers by flies rather than the bees which are not active in early spring, its blooming time. Hawthorn is all around us in the countryside, so if you live there or have spent some time there without being put off by hawthorns spring scent, then you won't find it unpleasant.

By September, the pollinated flowers become 1cm wide, deep red fruits known as haws. These can contain up to five seeds at their centre.

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Chart shows approximate distribution of the native tree within Ireland, each dot is a 10km square in which the species grows.

Back to native Irish trees.

Hawthorn Images courtesy
Haruta Ovidiu, University of Oradea, Romania
www.forestryimages.org

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Last edited by James Kilkelly, was GPI. on Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:10 pm; edited 4 times in total
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shefra
Rank attained: Hawthorn Tree
Rank attained: Hawthorn Tree


Joined: 09 May 2007
Posts: 50

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 2:02 pm    Post subject: Hawthorn Reply with quote

GPI, there was a programe on TG4 over w/end re hawthorn, and fairies. Eddie Linehan, well known storyteller, originally from Brosna in Kerry, saw roadworks going on where 'famous' hawthorn tree of faries was growing, I think in Clare, he mentioned it on some local radio, was on Kenny live, interviewed by alot of US TVs.... to make a long story short , the tree was saved from destruction! also preventing the curse of the fairies on the construction team. Goes to show one man did it on his own, pity he did' go for govt.
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JennyS
Rank attained: Rowan Tree
Rank attained: Rowan Tree


Joined: 30 Mar 2007
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Location: West Cork, Ireland

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd have voted for him!
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Coillte√Čire
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That one tree can have so many flowers is incredible! Shocked
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banner
Rank attained: Sessile Oak Tree
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw hawthorn trees in Aldi
http://www.aldi.ie/ie/html/offers/special_buys3_21112.htm

How close together would they need to be planted to create a screen? Could the be kept at about 5 feet high and narrow, not going into neighbours 'airspace' f planted besde a fence?
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tippben
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, normally, you'd do a staggered row, 2' between plants, and 1' between each row. If you wanted to plant it on the fenceline, it'd be up to you, or your neighbour, to cut their side in the dormant season. Otherwise, plant 1+ metres out from the fenceline, so you'll have room to get behind the hedge.
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Gautama
Rank attained: Rowan Tree
Rank attained: Rowan Tree


Joined: 29 Aug 2008
Posts: 141
Location: Cork

PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When planted for form a screen/hedge, do they every flower?
This is my favourite tree and he hedge around Bushy Park in Dublin is lovely, but I've never actually seen it in bloom.
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Greengage
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you plan on planting Hawthorn make sure its Irish grown, Most of the stuff is imported it has different DNA to native Irish grown, later flowering ect...
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Gautama
Rank attained: Rowan Tree
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Joined: 29 Aug 2008
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Location: Cork

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Collected the haws in the wilds of Cork. Should be ok.
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