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Hawthorn

Plant

Crataegus monogyna

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. Try to avoid buying others that are likely to be non-native species.

Animals that benefit

  • It supports many insect species, eg hawthorn shield bug, earwig, common flower bug, bumblebees, cockchafers, etc.
  • The above are eaten by predators, eg Devils’ coach horse, violet ground beetle, harvestman, garden spider, wren, blue tit, etc
  • Blackbirds and other thrushes (including redwings and fieldfares), greenfinches, yellowhammers, chaffinches, starlings and many other birds relish the haws in autumn.
  • Small mammals, birds, insects and other invertebrates nest, roost and/or hibernate here, eg wood mouse, wren, robin, blackbird, song thrush, brimstone and peacock butterflies, lacewing, ladybird, slow worm, common toad, etc.   

Vital statistics

Native: Yes
Flowers: Small, strongly scented, white, pink or red in May and June
Fruits: Red berries, or haws, from September onwards

Calendar

Not seen in JanuaryNot seen in FebruaryNot seen in MarchNot seen in AprilNot seen in MayNot seen in JuneNot seen in JulyNot seen in AugustNot seen in SeptemberNot seen in OctoberNot seen in NovemberNot seen in December

Key to calendar

Amphibians

Reptiles