From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Washington Hawthorn in Winter

More About Trees and Plants...



Hawthorn berriesWashington hawthorn berries in December

About a dozen years ago, I decided to take the Arbor Day Foundation's offer of 10 free trees with a 1 year, $10 membership. The trees they sent were tiny and half of them didn't make it, but we do have two Washington hawthorn trees and three redbuds that survived.

Two of the redbuds have begun blooming every spring, and one has not yet bloomed. I suppose it's fighting too hard just to survive, because it's planted within the root system of an ancient sugar maple.

The hawthorn trees are covered with little white blossoms in late spring, and in fall and winter, they're loaded with red berries. The fruits stay on the branches fairly well through the winter and are eaten by birds, squirrels, mice, rabbits, possums, raccoons, deer, etc. They are supposed to be edible for humans as well, but I am not sure what is made from them -- jelly, maybe?

Hawthorn trees don't tolerate shade well, but they do tolerate poor drainage, moderate drought, heat, air and mine pollution, occasional floods, and most wind and ice storms.

Hawthorns grow slowly, but since they are a small tree (20-35 feet), they don't have too far to go. Our trees are at least 15 feet tall, so they've been growing a little faster than the average rate of 6-12 inches per year. They have full sun and a fairly damp, heavy soil where they grow. In heavy rain, water collects in a boggy area nearby though the hawthorns rarely stand in water.

The one thing that I don't really enjoy about these little trees is their thorns! They are densely branched, and each branch is densely thorned. This makes it hard to mow around them. We could prune off their lower branches, of course, but we haven't yet -- we just mow wide, instead.

The mockingbirds love hawthorn trees for their nests. They see the mass of thorny branches as an attractive asset, not a "pain" like we do!

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Source of some facts for this post: Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America by Gary L. Hightshoe. Copyright 1988. Published by Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York NY. If you like trees and ever have the opportunity to purchase this book, do not hesitate to do so. It is a wonderful resource.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.