Hawthorn – The May Tree. … ‘every shepherd tells his tale Under the hawthorn in the dale.’ Milton.
Hawthorn – Crataegus is one of the oldest medicinal herbs used in European medicine. It grows as a deciduous shrub or small tree and is found all over Sussex. It is found growing in some of the most wind swept area’s providing great food and shelter to many birds, insects and live stock all year round. But you do not need to look far! There are some wonderful trees up the path to Whitehawk hill.
Hawthorn is called the May Tree and has associations with May Day, the festival of vegetation signifying the bringing in of the summer. It has been associated as an omen of good (fertility) and often regarded as a lovers tree ‘Corinna’s Going A-Maying’ by Robert Herrick in 1648 speaks of no other plant, encouraging Corinna out of bed on that May morning!
As a medicinal herb In Western herbal tradition it has been regarded as the best cardiovascular tonics in the plant kingdom. History also shows us that it has played its role as an important food source. In Sussex it was known as the Bread and cheese bush , young hawthorn leaves were picked and added to sandwiches (ask your grandparent if they remember!). Wines have been made from the blossoms and jams from the red berries (haws). It is therefore of no surprise how this tree has become so fond to our hearts. I say go take a stroll through the blossoms of May and see for yourself where it takes you this day.
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