‘The May’: Hawthorn

Following our earlier post on Birch, here’s a quick look at our most iconic native tree for May.  Why not step outside and introduce yourself to a hawthorn tree…

Also known as white thorn or The May, hawthorn is a hedgerow tree, making a good barrier for livestock.  There are 1,000 species of hawthorn and it was widespread in UK before 6,000BC.  A hawthorn can support 50 species of insects, live for over 400 years and flower twice a year.

Hawthorn Blossom


Sedative, diuretic, regulator of blood pressure, heart stimulant.  Flowers used as a beauty treatment for the face, berries for sore throats


Leaves were eaten for early spring nourishment and known as ‘bread & cheese’; jams and chutneys from the berries.


Handles for tools – considered lucky, makes the hottest firewood


Represents fertility, marriages at Beltane/ May Day and associated with wells, healing, charms and blessings.  A sprig of hawthorn brought protection from fire, lightening, spirits and storms at sea.  It is thought to bring misfortune if a tree is destroyed.

Garlands of hawthorn were made to augment blessing; trees themselves also garlanded in thanks.  Traditionally a globe of hawthorn was made and hung in the house all year, then burnt at new year to protect the house.

Article inspired by Tree Wisdom: The definitive guidebook to the myth, folklore and healing power of Trees by Jacqueline Memory Paterson  

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