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National Tree Week 2024

March 4, 2024 charlene.knox

National Tree Week

Throughout history, trees have held a special place in Irish culture, rooting themselves in mythology and folklore, lending themselves to place names, and holding spiritual significance. In honour of National Tree Week, each day we’ll be highlighting the importance of one native species that is commonly occurring in our local landscape.

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)

Hawthorn or whitethorn has long been used in the Irish landscape due to its thorns and tendency to form a dense, stock-proof hedge when pruned. Its white to pale pink flowers are noticeable in hedgerows and along roadsides during May. When grown in isolation, it forms a small tree which has long been the subject of superstition.

Lone hawthorn trees are often seen in fields and are referred to as faery trees. Bad luck is thought to befall anyone causing damage to these trees. Conversely, they are also sometimes used as rag trees where offerings are tied to it with the hope that as the offering disintegrates, so too will the ailment or worry it was placed there to represent.

In addition to their cultural significance, the branches of hawthorns provide habitat for birds and other wildlife while their blossoms provide nectar to pollinating insects, their berries or haws provide food for birds, and they support over 140 insect species.

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Eleanor Burke

Environmental Director

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