“The beautiful Hawthorn, that has
now put on
Its summer luxury of snowy wreaths,
Bending its branches in exuberant bloom,
While to the light enamour’d gale it breathes,
Rife as its loveliness, its rare perfume.
Glory of England’s landscape! Favourite tree
Of bard or lover! It flings far and free
Its grateful incense.”
The tree which is the subject of this article grows about 300
from my home. As the poem suggests, it is simply beautiful
it blooms in the spring, as it provides a huge abundance of
white flowers. Neither I nor my neighbours however could, by
stretch of the imagination, agree with the poet about “Its
incense”. I suppose that it depends on what is meant by the
“rare”, as in “rare perfume”. The tree in question does
entire neighbourhood with its scent. Unfortunately the scent
best described as foetid, and closely resembles decaying
Passersby tend to hold their breath when walking nearby.
Hawthorns are deciduous members of the Rose family (Rosaceae
) which normally
spines. The genus name Crataegus
is derived from the Greek, and translates to ‘flowering
thorn’. The species studied here, punctata
, refers to the unusual
dots which cover the tree’s fruit, and which are actually
The common name Hawthorn is derived from ‘haw’ which is the old
name for a hedge. Thus Hawthorn refers to a ‘thorny hedge’.
Pictures of the tree in question follow. It’s about 6 metres
height and has the same width. Its crown is roughly rounded,
spreading branches. Since it is obviously a Hawthorn, I was
puzzled by the fact that no spines were visible anywhere.
Investigation revealed that Crataegus
has fewer spines than most other
fact a thornless cultivar is sold in North America, and I suspect
the City deliberately chose this cultivar to prevent puncture
accidents, since the tree grows beside a sidewalk.
The bark is grayish-brown in colour, and is scaly. Lighter
coloured areas are patches of lichen.
Strangely, the tree’s buds are pink in colour, and this colour
white as the flowers bloom.
The series of images that follows show the Dotted Hawthorn’s
flowers. Most of the colour is provided by the bright red,
immature anthers. Notice that in newly opened flowers, these
anthers are arranged in a ring around the central pistils.
the filaments lengthen, and the stamens spread to take up more
positions. The flowers themselves are arranged in corymbs,
which the stalks are of varying length, producing a flat topped
When flowers bloom, their anthers are covered by a bright red
which protects the developing pollen grains. Their
filaments are curved, and white in colour. Each flower
about twenty stamens, and from two to five styles. This
particular cultivar has two.
The series of images that follows shows, with increasing
these membranous anthers and their filaments. Notice in the first
images that a flower has five irregularly shaped, white petals.
As time passes, the red membranes begin to disintegrate, revealing
less visually appealing , brown, pollen shedding anthers
(The process of an anther’s releasing pollen is referred to as
dehiscing.) The difference in size of the ‘red’ anthers, and
‘brown’ anthers is striking!
Closer views of pollen releasing anthers reveals that they possess
pollen covered pads on either side of a dark central disk, which
attached at its base to the filament.
The later stages of a blooming corymb are much less colourful than
early ones. Without the bright red membranes, flowers have a
rather drab appearance.
Twigs are grayish-brown in colour. Notice the complex series
rings at several locations on the twig.
Immature fruit, (more correctly called pomes), of the Dotted
are indeed ‘dotted’ with tiny white glands. (A pome is a
with fleshy outer tissue and a papery-walled inner chamber
the seeds.) Although eventually they will have a dull red
at this early stage they are light brown.
Notice that a leaf’s margin is finely serrated, and that it has a
complex vein pattern on its upper surface.
Although Dotted Hawthorn flowers have an extremely unpleasant
humans, the smell is positively delightful to midges and they are
strongly attracted to it. For this reason midges are the
instrument of pollination in the wild.
The low magnification, (to
macro-photographs were taken using a 13 megapixel Canon 5D full
DSLR, using a Canon EF 180 mm 1:3.5 L Macro lens.
An 10 megapixel Canon 40D
equipped with a specialized high magnification (1x to 5x) Canon
lens, the MP-E 65 mm 1:2.8, was used to take the remainder of
A Flower Garden of
A complete graphical index of
of my flower articles can be found here.
The Colourful World
A complete graphical index of
of my crystal articles can be found here.