Here’s another leaf mine to look for in your local hedgerows, a very distinctive mine on Hawthorn (Crataegus sp.) made by the larvae of the micro moth Parornix anglicella, also known as the Hawthorn slender.
Although the newly hatched moth larva initially creates a corridor mine and then a blotch, it later makes itself a cone-shaped tent, using silk to adhere the bent-over edge to the main part of the leaf, and these cones are very easy to spot. Turn over the leaf to view the underside and you’ll find incredibly beautiful, almost sculptural structures, some resembling miniature latticework pyramids.
When I got home from today’s walk, I discovered I had a hitchhiker, tucked up snugly in the hood of my jacket. I presume this Hawthorn shieldbug got brushed off its bush and on to me as I pushed through the snagging branches of some young Hawthorns earlier in the day. After a couple of quick photos, I placed it on the window ledge and off it flew in search of the nearest Hawthorn.
It’s that time of year again, when the Hawthorn blossom scents the air with its distinctive perfume and carpets the ground with its snow-like blossom.
My Flora Britannica reminds me that Hawthorn, also known as the May tree, was ‘the ancestor of the Maypole, the source of May Day garlands … and one of the models for the foliage which wreathes the faces of Green Men carved in churches and inns.’
For lots more fascinating information on the Hawthorn, check out my previous post here.
> Hawthorn’s scientific name is Crataegus monogyna. Crataegus comes from the Greek kratos, meaning strength, and akis, meaning sharp, and monogyna is derived from mono, meaning one or single, and gyna, meaning seed or ovary.
> Hawthorn is also known as the May-tree, Mayblossom and Maythorn, not surprisingly because it usually flowers during May. It is the only British plant named after the month in which it blooms.
> The Hawthorn’s white flowers can be either male or female. You can tell the male flowers by their pink-tipped stamens.
> Hawthorn’s red berries, the haws, not only serve as food for birds, particularly the thrushes, they can also be used to make jams and jellies and wine.
> The Hawthorn provides food for more than 150 different species of insect, like the hawthorn shield bug, the common earwig and common flower bug, bumblebees and cockchafers, to name just a few.
> Due to its dense growth and long thorns, Hawthorn has served as the perfect impenetrable hedge for thousands of years. Individual trees can live for 400 years or more.
> In years gone by, the wood of the Hawthorn, because it has a very fine grain and is very hard, was used for making things like tool handles and engravers’ blocks. The root wood was also used to make combs and small boxes.