Hawthorns

These beautiful haws are not the native Irish hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna but an American form Crataegus ellwangeriana. This species originated in Eastern USA, and is thought to be a hybrid. The haws are about the size of a marble and taste somewhat of apples. It is one of three Crataegus species we have planted as part of our forest garden and the only one yet to produce haws. Compared to our native hawthorn, Crataegus ellwangeriana has a more pleasant flavour.

American hawthorn

American hawthorn

Our native hawthorns usually crop well, which is one of the reason we thought to try some of the cultivated varieties. They are one of the most common trees in our native hedgerows. At this time of year, the haws are an important food source for many birds, especially blackbirds and thrushes.

Native hawthorn

Native hawthorn – in a good year

This year, the haw crop seems very poor and I wonder how that will impact on the thrush and blackbird populations as winter progresses. We had lots of rowan berries in the young mixed wood that is planted close-by but the berries are already nearly all gone – I can only assume they have been eaten already.

Rowan berries

Rowan berries, Sorbus aucuparia

Elderberries too and nearly all eaten. So what will be left?

Elderberry, Sambucus nigra

Elderberry, Sambucus nigra

 

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4 thoughts on “Hawthorns

  1. datz53

    That’s interesting as here in the Auvergne this year the berries are excellent. It was a dry spring and – for us- a wet summer followed by a very dry September.

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    1. Murtagh's Meadow Post author

      I think the poor crop may be a result of our spring weather. We had very late frosts and the flowers were noticeably less than other years. At least the Auvergne birds will be well supplied:)

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  2. Robbie

    that is what happened to some of my berries. We had a late frost and not too many flowers….I am hoping we have a better year next year. Do you make things with your elderberries? i have one in my yard but they get a bit too large for my space or I would have more.. My raspberries had the best year.

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    1. Murtagh's Meadow Post author

      I made an elderberry syrup two years ago as it’s supposed to be really good for coughs and colds – was going to do it again this year, but one of those ‘jobs’ I never got around to. Our elderberries, which just grow wild in our hedgerows, respond well to a good cutting back, but it will reduce fruiting for a year. Here too – best year yet for raspberries:)

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