Of the many leaves now bursting back to life after winter, one of the brightest is the leaf of the Hawthorn tree.
This small hedgerow tree has bright, lime-green, club-shaped leaves at this time of year but this stunning display is nothing compared to the blossom.
The whole tree grows between 20 and 40 feet is often used to create hedges. This is great for wildlife, as many insects and birds alike will hide away between the leaves. Some birds will even make their nests within the tangle of twigs.
Hawthorn is also a prickly bush, with large thorns covering the twigs and branches. This is to put off any large herbivores such as deer that might want to take advantage of the tender new growth.
In spring, hawthorn will become covered in flowers that provide food for bees, butterflies and many other species of insect. Although historically this happens in May, in the last thirty years Hawthorn has been recorded flowering earlier and earlier and now often starts to flower in April.
After the flowers come the berries. The ‘haw’ part of the name comes from this berry, which in this species is known as a ‘haw’. This is yet another reason why this species is beneficial to wildlife.
Blackbirds, thrushes and other fruit-eating birds will fiercely defend a hawthorn tree in their territory as it provides a living larder.
All in all, this makes the hawthorn on of the best trees to grow in the garden.
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