Hawthorn and Cow Parsley

Spring has finally got going here in Sneinton. Around three weeks ago swifts arrived back, and in the past week hawthorn has bloomed. The screaming of swifts as they feed on the wing, getting closer as the day ends and the insects that they catch descend, is a sound I associate with Summer. And the start of Summer is signalled by hawthorn blossom. Hawthorn is often a scraggy, tough little tree and easily goes unnoticed, growing where other species couldn’t fit or wouldn’t thrive, but when it starts to flower it reveals just how many and varied they are. Whether sparse or densely clustered, the creamy-white blossom hangs like garlands, adding a humble beauty to wood and hedgerow. The Woodland Trust lists many names for hawthorn, some of which refer to May, when it flowers, whilst others stem from the Old English name Hag, meaning both ‘haw’ (its red fruit) and ‘hedge’: Awes, Asogs, Azzies, Aglets, Agags, Arzy-garzies, and (oddly) Boojuns. Another kind of small white flower has also appeared – cow parsley. Other varieties of umbellifer also grow here, including hemlock, ladies bedstraw, hogweed and fennel. The sight and smell of the fresh greens and new whites of Spring are intensified when the sun comes out and warms the air. The following photos were taken last weekend at Colwick Woods, where cow parsley and hawthorn are frequently seen together:


Hawthorn, nettle, cow parsley, ash


Hawthorn stump surrounded by cow parsley.


Cow parsley


Hawthorn blossom




Ivy and cow parsley on the floor of the wood

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2 Responses to Hawthorn and Cow Parsley

  1. I found the names for Hawthorn on the Woodland Trust site and wanted to check if they appeared elsewhere, for fear of an Uncyclopedia-esque hacking. Very glad that led me here. Some beautiful writing and photos.

    • Guy says:

      Thank you very much, Karen. Shame there’s no references for the hawthorn names on the Woodland Trust site. I expect a more authoritative reference could be found in the OED, if you have access to it.

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