Hawthorn or white thorn was planted in hedges throughout our countryside.
Its sweet smelling ‘May’ blossom is a feature in that month, and in autumn and winter the deep red haws colour the bare twigs. They are among the berries most favoured by birds.
Only untrimmed hawthorn can flower and fruit freely, but hedges have to be cut to keep them stock proof.
Hawthorn hedges may be trimmed regularly, or left for several years and then laid by cutting part way through the main stems and laying these horizontally through the hedge. Even old hawthorn hedges will regenerate if trunks are cut back to base and left to sprout again, but these must be fenced off so that farm livestock cannot reach the tasty young shoots and eat them.
Like many other trees, hawthorn also grows in woodland where there is enough light – in open glades, along ‘rides’ through the woodland, or along the edge.
A single tree may be left in a field as a ‘fairy thorn’, especially where there may be an archaeological site.