Botanical Name: Crataegus laevigata or monogyna
Common Names: espino álbar, espino blanco, texocotl, quickthorn, thornapple, May-tree, whitethorn, or hawberry
How do you identify hawthorn and where is it grown?
The easiest time to identify this tree is in May, as it is associated with many May Day rituals (also known as Beltane rituals). You’ll find people using the branches and blooms of this tree to decorate maypoles and create garlands for their homes.
It is a thorny tree that grows up to 30 feet tall with clusters of showy white or pink flowers. The beautiful blooms are complemented by reddish-purple leaves which will turn to a beautiful orange or scarlet color as the growing season progresses. The bark of the Hawthorn tree is white and the tree bears red fruit, which hangs on well into winter and is beloved by songbirds. May-trees are found in Europe, Western Asia, the Mediterraenan, Northern Africa and Mexico. The tejocote root is harvested from trees in the mountains of Mexico.
How did the thornapple tree become the May-tree?
A member of the rose family, this tree and its showy blossoms have been associated with love and courage. As a matter of fact, you probably know of a ship full of brave explorers that was named after this May-tree: The Mayflower.
Classical Greeks and Romans regarded the hawthorn as a symbol of hope, happiness and protection. Hawthorn blossoms were associated so often with love, desire, happiness, and good fortune that they simply became known as the Mayflower.