VIEW THE MOBILE VERSION of Informational Site Network Informational
Home - List of Herbs and Articles - Rock Garden

Most Viewed Herbs

(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)
Anemone (wood)
House Leek (crassulaceoe)

Least Viewed Herbs

(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)
Anemone (wood)
House Leek (crassulaceoe)

Hawthorn (whitethorn)

The Hawthorn, or Whitethorn, is so welcome year by year as a
harbinger of Summer, by showing its wealth of sweet-scented,
milk-white blossoms, in our English hedgerows, that everyone rejoices
when the Mayflower comes into bloom. Its brilliant haws, or fruit,
later on are a botanical advance on the blackberry and wild
raspberry, which belong to the same natural order. It has promoted
itself to the possession of a single carpel or seed-vessel to each
blossom, producing a [246] separate fruit, this being a stony apple in

But the word haw is misapplied, because it really means a
hedge, and not a fruit; whilst hips, which are popularly
connected with haws, are the fruit-capsules of the wild Dog-rose.
Haws, when dried, make an infusion which will act on the kidneys;
they are astringent, and serve, as well as the flowers, in decoction,
to cure a sore throat.

The Hawthorn bush was chosen by Henry the Seventh for his
device, because a small crown from the helmet of Richard the Third
was discovered hanging thereon. Hence arose the legend Cleve to
thy crown though it hangs on a bush. In some districts it is called
Hazels, Gazels, and Halves; and in many country places the
villagers believe that the blossom of the Hawthorn still bears the
smell of the great plague of London. It was formerly thought to be
scathless--a tree too sacred to be touched.

Botanically, the Hawthorn is called Cratoegus oxyacantha, these
names signifying kratos, strength or hardness (of the wood); and
oxus, sharp--akantha, a thorn. It is the German Hage-dorn or
Hedge thorn, showing that from a very early period in the history of
the Germanic races, their land was divided into plots by means of

The Hawthorn is also named Whitethorn, from the whiteness of its
rind; and Quickset from its growing in a hedge as a quick or living
shrub, when contrasted with a paling of dead wood. An old English
name for the buds of the Hawthorn when just expanding, was
Ladies' Meat; and in Sussex it is called the Bread and Cheese tree.

In many parts of England charms or incantations are [247]
employed to prevent a thorn from festering in the flesh, as:--

Happy the man that Christ was born,
He was crowned with a thorn,
He was pierced through the skin
For to let the poison in;
But His five wounds, so they say,
Closed before He passed away;
In with healing, out with thorn!
Happy man that Christ was born.

The flowers are fertilised for the most part by carrion insects, and a
certain undertone of decomposition may be detected (says Grant
Allen) by keen nostrils in the scent of the Mayflower. It is this
curious element, in what seems otherwise a pure and delicious
perfume, which attracts the meat-eating insects, or rather those
insects which lay their eggs and hatch out their larvae in decaying
animal matter. The meat-fly comes first abroad just at the time when
the Mayblossom breaks into bloom.

A Greek bride was sometimes decked with a sprig of Hawthorn, as
emblematic of a flowery future, with thorns intermingled. It is
supposed that the Jewes maden, for our Saviour, a croune of the
branches of Albespyne, that is, Whitethorn, that grew in the same
garden, and therefore hath the Whitethorn many vertues being
called in France l'epine noble.

The shadows in the moon are popularly thought to represent a man
laden with a bundle of thorns in punishment of theft:--

Rusticus in luna quem sarcina deprimit una,
Monstrat per spinas nulli prodesse rapinas.

A thievish clown by cruel thorns opprest
Shows in the moon that honesty pays best.

Next: Hemlock And Henbane

Previous: Groundsel

Add to Informational Site Network

Viewed 1873