Sunday, 16 May 2021

Midland Hawthorn

We’ve just been for a walk in a beautiful ancient woodland full of flowers and I spotted this hawthorn.

It’s a type of hawthorn called a Midland hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata), also known as Woodland hawthorn, which is a bit different to the Common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). Its leaves are more shallow lobed, and it has creamy-white to sometimes pinky-red flowers as opposed to the white flowers of the common hawthorn.

Midland hawthorns were actually more prevalent than the common hawthorn in the Middle Ages, but they are much harder to find now. They are native to western and central Europe, and they are most common in central - I’m guessing where the name comes from - and southern England, most notably in Leicestershire and Rutland. They grow in ancient woodland and love clay soil.

In the past the Midland hawthorn was incorrectly known as Crataegus oxyacantha, and in 1753 this name was used to cover several species of hawthorn. In 1775 the Midland and Common species were separated out, and in 1946 it was finally shown that a different plant was actually Crataegus oxyacantha. Because of the confusion, this name is still used occasionally for the Midland hawthorn.

Hawthorn has highly scented blossom, but when the flowers are cut they are said to have reminded medieval people of the Great Plague, such is their foul smell - but I have not tested this theory! Hawthorn was never taken inside the home, it was believed that illness and death would occur soon after.

In my family we don’t consider the summer having started until the hawthorn flowers; which has been really late (in our area) this year. Summer is finally here!

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

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