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Make a home for wildlife
Also known as: May tree, quickthorn
Hawthorn is probably the commonest hedgerow shrub, and can be found throughout the UK. It provides food for more than 150 different insect species, so is a very valuable addition to any wildlife garden.
It has lobed leaves and is covered with clusters of flowers in May. By autumn the flowers have turned into the red berries beloved by birds. It has long, sharp thorns and as a hedge forms a very secure barrier. Hawthorn is a deciduous species and its young leaves have a distinct 'nutty' flavour.
It tolerates a wide variety of conditions, including polluted and exposed sites. The other kind of British native hawthorn is Crataegus laevigata and you will find various garden varieties, including C. laevigata, 'Pauls Scarlet', which grows into an attractive small tree.
When buying a hawthorn, make sure it comes from nursery-grown British stock. Often they've been imported from eastern Europe and may have been taken from the wild. Continental varieties flower at different times and are more prone to mildew than native strains.
Native: YesFlowers: Small, strongly scented, white, pink or red in May and JuneFruits: Red berries, or haws, from September onwards