This month, our tree specialists at Glendale Civic Trees recommend Crataegus monogyna.  Nicknamed May Blossom for it’s eye catching spring blooms, this tree is thought to herald the start of spring.

Where does it grow?

Crataegus monogyna, or common Hawthorn, is native to the UK and it is a familiar feature in hedgerows and woodlands around the country.   

Why is is cultivated?

Hawthorn is commonly planted as a hedge or agricultural barrier. The tree’s spiny and closely compacted structure make it ideal for fencing in livestock and it is one of the most common species utilised in traditional hedge-laying techniques.  This is where the stem of the tree is cut almost through near the base and pulled down parallel with the ground to encourage new vertical growth.  

The timber of Crataegus monogyna is very hard with an attractive creamy brown colour and a fine grain making it suitable for a variety of wood products such as tool handles and cabinets.  It also makes very good firewood.    

Traditionally however, Crataegus monogyna was cultivated for its use in herbalism and medicine, particularly for treating cardiovascular related illnesses.

What conditions does it prefer?

As a native to the UK, Hawthorn will grow in almost any aspect and in any soil type that is moist but well drained, however the best flowers are produced when the tree is exposed to full sun.  

What does it look like up close?

Crataegus monogyna is a round, deciduous tree with glossy foliage and small creamy flowers.  In the autumn the flowers are replaced with clusters of dark red berries.

The leaves are deeply lobed, and it has dense, bushy branches with sharp thorns making it a safe place for birds to make their homes away from predators.  The bark is dark grey/brown in colour, and in older trees the surface can become marred with knots and fissures.  

Any distinctive features?
The tree is popular for its abundance of delicate white flowers that, grow in a ‘corymb’ structure and bloom in May. Each flower has five white petals with vivid red stamens in the centre, and they are heavily scented.    

Our recommendations

Deric Newman, sales manager at Civic Trees, says: “Due to the abundance of wildlife it supports, Hawthorn is a fantastic choice in wildlife gardens. It’s berries, or ‘haws’, in particular are a vital source of food for birds, insects and other wildlife during the autumn months and can also be made into jams and jellies.

“The species has been used for years as a way to ‘stock-proof’ agricultural sites.  It’s hardy nature and naturally dense structure make it well suited to this purpose.  I’d highly recommended the species if you’re looking for an instant hedge or screening tree.  However, it’s important to note that Crataegus monogyna is quite fast growing so will require regular trimming to keep in under control.   

“Their striking features mean they also work well as stand-alone features in large open spaces and will eventually grow to between eight and 15 metres tall.  They were once used as boundary-markers in the open landscape by Anglo-Saxons due to their conspicuous nature.”

To find out more about the tree of the month and if it will work well in your project contact our team: 0208 950 4491 or info@civictrees.co.uk.

If you enjoyed this why not try our Tree of the Month recommendation for April.