Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hawthorns Provide an Autumnal Feast; WildLondon

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hawthorns Provide an Autumnal Feast; WildLondon

Article excerpt

AS THE leaves of the city's trees turn from green to russet and gold we witness the final flourishes of the wild fruits that add a splash of colour to the landscape and much-needed nourishment for wildlife. The commonest are surely those of hawthorn, an almost ubiquitous, small and often messily shaped tree found in woodlands, parks, gardens and rural hedgerows.

Its bright red berries emerge towards the end of summer in hefty clusters, often numbering thousands per tree. These darken so that by November those remaining are a dull burgundy. As temperatures cool, birds, voles and woodmice prepare for winter by fattening up and berries provide crucial nutrition. A plentiful harvest such as this year's helps tide them over until spring.

Nearly 200,000 miles of hawthorn hedges were planted in the English countryside from the 18th century onwards as land was enclosed for livestock. Hawthorn grows quickly and, if planted densely, its thorny structure acts as a robust barrier "haw" derives from an old word meaning "land enclosed by a hedge". …

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