Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

May Blossom

In Nottingham in the early 60s I remember me mam saying “naer¬†cast a clout till May is¬†out” to me when I tried to go out in the Spring without my duffle coat or string vest. I thought, and I think me mam thought too, that “may” referred to the month of May but it really means the¬†blossom of the May tree, one of many names¬†for the Hawthorn. Other names are Whitethorn, Thornapple¬†and¬†Hawberry¬†as well as the¬†Faerie Tree since fairies live close by.

Indeed Hawthorn is steeped in folklore, being frequently¬†associated¬†with bad luck. To bring it into the house is sure to incur¬†illness and death and a wedding¬†while the May is blossoming¬†does not bode well. This association with misfortune may be because Hawthorn was supposedly used for Jesus’s¬†crown of thorns.

On the positive side 149 species of insect have been recorded as being supported by Hawthorn and the berries, the haws, are a rich source of food for birds. The tree can be very long lived with 700 year old specimens recorded.

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