Hawthorn, Flora in Co. Mayo

The hawthorn is a small tree or bush with spiny branches.

It is frequent in woods and hedgerows.

The thorns are little and grow either from branches or from the trunk.

The leaves grow spirally and have lobed or serrate margins, they are green and somewhat triangular. The flowers, moderately fragrant, are produced in late spring (May to early June) in corymbs and have five white or rarely pink petals.

The flowers are pollinated by insects and later in the year bear numerous haws. These fruits are red and berry-like and can be eaten by birds and mammals in winter.

It has a considerable interest for treating cardiac insufficiency in traditional or modern medical uses; the plant parts used medicinally are usually springs with leaves and flowers.

In the Celtic lore it was used for rune inscriptions with yew and apple and is strongly associated with the fairies, better not cut the tree at any time, however it is commonly cut for decorations as a May Bush at Bealtaine.

In Ireland there is a common expression: "When all fruit fails, welcome haws".

The botanical name is Crataegus monogyna while the word haw is an Old English term for hedge.