Hawthorn Animals & Plants

About the Hawthorn

Native to North Africa as well as Western Asia and most of Europe, the Hawthorn or Whitethorn is steeped in ancient Irish folklore. Considered to be a fairy tree, especially when found on its own, the tree is most often found in hedges throughout the countryside.

Its sweet smelling blossom is prominent during the early summer, especially May, while its deep red haw berries are a significant source of food for birds during Autumn and Winter. Irish Brehon laws demanded a sheep from anyone found to have cut a branch from a Hawthorn, though generations later snipped twigs of the plant for their homes on May evenings.

The plant does have some medicinal purposes – in both traditional and modern medicine – and is also good to burn as fuel, as it creates heat with little smoke when added to a fire. Its haws are edible and are commonly made into jams or jellies and can be used to make wine or add flavour to brandy. Hawthorn is found in Fota on the outer Park path between Monkey Island and the Harbour Seal habitat.