Information on Hawthorn

Common Name: Hawthorn
Scientific Name: Crataegus monogyna
Irish Name: Sceach gheal
Family Group: Rosaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Hawthorn is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.


The Hawthorn is commonly described as a bush or small deciduous tree with spiny branches. In about mid-May, the hedgerows and fields of Ireland come alive with great clusters of its beautiful white flowers.  Each 12 mm flower is a marvel in itself with an occasional blush of pink on its 5 petals.  These flowers have numerous stamens and an examination of them through a hand-lens is most rewarding.  The scent of the flowers is not very attractive in spite of it belonging to the family Rosaceae.  The shiny dark-green leaves of the Hawthorn are deeply lobed and in autumn this 2-10 m tree is laden with bright crimson mealy but edible berries. The Hawthorn is native to Ireland and its genus name Crataegus, from the Greek kratos, which means strength, is thought to be a reference to the hardness of the hawthorn's wood.  

I first identified this lovely tree in Roundwood, Co Wicklow in 1976 and the photographs were taken at Pollardstown Fen, Co Kildare in 2008. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Hawthorn
Hawthorn

'Eating Haws will give you the yellow jaundice.'  

From the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin. NFC S. 462:309.

'Freckled nest-eggs thou shalt see
Hatching in the hawthorn-tree,
When the hen-bird's wing doth rest
Quiet on her mossy nest;'

Extract from 'Fancy'  by  John Keats (1795-1821) 

 'Beware, beware the hawthorn,
Lest it strike you down,
For if you take an axe to it
You'll rue that you were born.'

Hawthorn  :  Giles Watson  :  2005*

* http://delta-intkey.com/angio/www/index.htm  follow link to Poems on Flowering Plants