May day and each hawthorn tree, bush, bit of hedging is loaded with ‘May’; masses of white, sometimes pinkish, blossom. As if each tree is sending the message: where one would do, here have several thousand instead.
Hawthorn or May has always been seen as a bringer of hope, of the fertility that comes with spring, of purity. So I am revelling in this plant’s beauty now.
There is a tradition too that Christ’s crown of thorns was made from branches of the Hawthorn tree. From this has arisen a reluctance for people to uproot or damage a Hawthorn tree.
Hawthorns lavish blossom is feeding numerous bees, hoverflies and other insect species. Come the autumn, hawthorns are covered in red berries – haws – providing vital food for thrushes, fieldfares, redwings and if we are lucky waxwings, arriving from the continent for the shelter our slightly warmer winters offer.
Hawthorns are easy to identify at the moment, as they are the only trees covered with white blossom. When not in flower, they can be identified by their leaves’ distinctive shape, and habit of curling their sides slightly upwards. Blackthorn is the other common tree or hedge shrub with thorns. Blackthorns leaves are flatter and don’t have a wavy edge.
Yesterday I cycled along Factory Road. With thunder booming from across the Fen, I took a photo of this lone Hawthorn tree. Since, I have learned of the superstition that such lone trees originate from lightning or thunder bolts and give protection from further strikes… these are trees for this May of all Mays…