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Quickthorn, Whitethorn, Mayblossom, Maythorn, Matree, Motherdie, Haw
Facts & Folkore:
As part of May Day and Beltane celebrations, young women of times gone by would rise at dawn to bathe in dew gathered from Hawthorne flowers to ensure their beauty through the coming year. While performing this ritual, it was important to wear rowan tree sprigs, another sacred and magical tree of Beltane. Also known as mayblossom, maythorn, maytree, quickthorn, whitethorn, motherdie, and haw, the hawthorne produces small dark red fruits with single seeds (haws). Haws are edible raw but are more commonly made into jellies, jams, and syrups, or used to make wine or add flavour to brandy. Petals and young leaves are also edible and tender enough to be used in salads. Hawthorn petals were a special ingredient in the medieval English recipe for spinee, an almond-milk based pottage. In Gaelic folklore, hawthorn is a magical plant, marking the entrance to the otherworld and is thus strongly associated with the fairies. It is considered very unlucky to cut the tree at any time other than when it is in bloom, such as when it is harvested and decorated as a May Bush for Beltane. Hawthorn trees are often found planted beside 'clootie ' (cloth)' wells, holy wells next to which rags or strips of cloth are tied to the hawthorn branches for use in healing rituals, causing these particular hawthorns to be known as 'rag trees.'
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