Hawthorn (or May)
(Crataegus monogyna)
Click here to choose:- Midland Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata)

Simple
Lobed
Alternate

leaves

Winter twig
Winter twig

tree

flowers and fruits

distribution map

The leaves are 15-30 mm long and divided into 5 to 7 lobes,  which  reach almost to the midrib and are largest at the base. They are hairless, except for a few tufts in the axils of the lower veins beneath, on stalks 5-15 mm long.

ID check

Hawthorn is a thorny, much-branched shrub or small tree, up to 10 m in height. It is native in scrub and woodland on most types of soil and widely planted in hedges.

The stem is grey (unlike Blackthorn), but the youngest twigs can be red.

The 5-petalled white or pink flowers are arranged in clusters of up to 16 in each, on branched stalks up to 3 cm long.

Each flower has a single style which persists in fruit.

The deep red fruits are 8-10 mm across with a single stone inside.

Facts

  • Hawthorn starts to flower approximately 2-3 weeks later than Midland hawthorn, 'May' in May rather than in April.

  • The fruits called 'haws' provide winter food for many birds, including thrushes, fieldfares and redwings.

  • It is one of the most important shrubs for wildlife, generally providing food for 150 different insects, including Duke of Burgundy butterflies.


 

Midland Hawthorn
(Crataegus laevigata)
Simple
Lobed
Alternate

leaves

Winter twig
Winter twig

tree

flowers

distribution map

The leaves are 15-50 mm long, oval in outline, but are broadest nearer the tip. They have about 3 shallow lobes not reaching halfway to the midrib. They are almost completely hairless, except for a few scattered on the main veins when the leaves are young.

ID check

Midland hawthorn is a thorny, much-branched shrub or small tree up to 10 m in height, which is native in woods and old hedges but much less common than hawthorn and rarely planted.

The stem is grey (unlike Blackthorn), but the youngest twigs can be red.

The 5-petalled white or pink flowers are arranged in clusters of rarely more than 6 in each on stalks up to 2.5 cm long.

Each flower has two styles which persist in fruit.

The deep red fruits are 8-10 mm across with two stones inside.

Facts

  • Midland hawthorn starts to flower in April, about 2-3 weeks earlier than ordinary hawthorn.

  • The flowers have a nauseating smell of rotting flesh, the odour of ordinary hawthorn is much sweeter.

  • Hybrids between this and ordinary hawthorn are often found in woods and hedges, where the two species grow side by side.

 Measuring variation in the shape of hawthorn leaves between edge and middle of ancient woods is a good project.

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