Until July 2017, documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say! Meanwhile . . . I've now moved to Halifax in West Yorkshire. Click on the link below to collect the new URL. Don't forget to follow there!

Saturday, 25 February 2012


Two problems crop up this time every year. One is . . . well, not exactly a problem - but intriguing; to tell hawthorn and blackthorn apart.

The upright twig on the right is clearly blackthorn but
. . . although I think there is hawthorn coming in from the left,
I'm really not certain.
Behind them, flowering prettily
(as it does all year)
is gorse.

For the most part, it’s easy. But there are bushes, here and there, where I get it wrong. Not that, in the course of world history this really matters - it’s just that the distinctive blackthorn thorns aren’t evenly spread and until the leaves / blossom begin to appear . . . I can stand in front of a bush feeling very silly and cross with myself.

A hawthorn leaf bud breaks open.
See the short thorns?
But blackthorns have a lot of short thorns too - even though the
the remarkably long ones are what we are likely to look for.

The easy bit is that hawthorn produces its leaves before its blossom - and that’s what’s beginning to happen. 

Whereas blackthorn blossoms before its leaves break - which is not what’s beginning to happen yet.

The other problem (and I always feel a bit uneasy about this) is that, for some readers, hawthorn and blackthorn are special trees. It’s not that I object to people finding them special - it’s just that I sometimes think we go adrift from each other at this time of year. I am specially impressed by blackthorn. Hawthorn’s ok too. But I don’t consider either of them to be magical - not in the really 'magic' kind of way. And I suppose I get defensive on behalf of other trees and plants that I keep an eye on for this blog. The elderberry and sycamore,  field maples (if that’s what they are) and the miles of blackberries and alexanders . . . and, later on, dandelions and viper’s bugloss . . . even the seaweed! - I’m sticking up for them. They are as ‘special’ to me as May and Sloe. And gorse of course.

The tree on the right is one I plant to come back to later in the year.
Beyond it is Sandsfoot Castle - built during the reign of HenryVIII.
* * *

About ‘Tree Following’.

I’ve put a box in the sidebar for this. If you’d like to let me know when you post about ‘your’ tree (don’t assume I know automatically because I follow your blog - I might miss it) I’ll put a note there.

Further down the page, there's a blog list of people with trees they are paying special attention to. This updates itself automatically whenever a post is posted so it doesn't take any notice of content - it's simply the  latest on that blog, whether it's anything to do with trees or not!

All photos taken today, February 25th 2012, except for the hawthorn leaf - which was yesterday.


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Janet said...

I didn't read the title of the post before plunging in - god you confused me there for a moment.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Folks - I'm confused about this post. It decided to re-post itself with an October date so it came onto the home page. I've given it it's proper date now - but it is still detached from the comments which were with it before. I'll try to work out what happened another day. Meanwhile - hope you enjoyed this surprise trip back to February!

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

P.S. The link below is to the comments which were originally attached to this post but have now set off on an independent life of their own.