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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