This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
This small tree is represented in early deposits in Interglacial beds at West Wittering in Sussex. Its recent distribution is limited to the North Temperate Zone from Belgium southwards, and North Africa. In Great Britain it is absent from North Devon in the Peninsula province, but occurs in the Channel, Thames, Anglia, and Severn provinces, except in Stafford and Salop; and only in Glamorgan, Carmarthen, and Pembroke in Wales. It is found also in N. Lincs, Leicester, Notts, N.E. and S.W. Yorks. It is naturalized elsewhere.
The Wayfaring Tree is a woodland species especially common on chalk or limestone tracts, where it is associated with Alder Buckthorn, White Beam, Wild Cherry, and other trees and shrubs. It grows in hedges also by the roadside, preferring a habitat well characterized by open light conditions and access to the sun.
The pliability of the twigs of this shrub-like plant is implied in both Latin names, which are derived from words meaning to tie. The stems are numerous, with white mealy branches. The leaves are leathery, entire, heart-shaped, oblong, toothed, wrinkled below when young, stellately hairy, and downy beneath. The leaf-stalks, shoots, and young leaves are densely covered with down. This may help to preserve the plant from the attacks of insects.
The flowers are creamy-white, in perfect terminal cymes, which are flat, with strong rays. There are 2 small bracts or leaf-like organs. The corolla is funnel-shaped. The flat, egg-shaped drupe or berry-like fruit is black or purple ultimately, at first scarlet. The seeds have a ventral groove.
The tree is usually about 8-10 ft. in height. The flowers, which in our experience are very soon picked, are to be found in May and June. The Wayfaring Tree is a deciduous shrub, which can be multiplied by layers, and is worth cultivating.
In this genus the flower secretes honey, which is concealed or open to all insects. The flowers are gathered into a head, and the outer flowers have a slightly more enlarged corolla, which in the Guelder Rose is developed at the expense of both stamens and pistil, and though not providing pollen nor seeds is useful to man. The stigma matures first. The flowers are complete in the Wayfaring Tree.