Hawthorn, or Crataegus, L. a genus of plants, consisting of twenty-five species, three of which are natives of Britain.
1. The Aria (pyrus Aria of Dr. Smith), White-beam Hawthorn, or Wild Pear-tree, which grows in woods and hedges, especially in mountainous situations with a calcareous soil, and flowers in the month of May. It delights in dry hills, and.open exposures, thriving either in gravel or clay. It will bear lopping, and does not prevent grass from growing beneath it. The white-beam hawthorn is eaten by sheep and goats, which last animals devour it with avidity. Its fruit is red, and when mellowed by the autumnal frosts, furnishes a grateful repast ; - a spirituous liquor may be obtained from it by distillation. This species seldom produces a good crop of fruit for two years in succession ; but its barrenness is amply compensated by the utility of its bard, tough, and smooth wood : which is formed into axle-trees, wheels, walking-sticks, carpenter's and other tools: its seed should either be sown as soon as it becomes ripe, or preserved in damp sand.
2. The Oxyacantha (Mespilus Oxyacantha of Dr. Smith) Whitethorn, or May, which grows in hedges, woods, and old parks. This is a very valuable shrub, and, on account of the stiffness of its branches, the sharpness of its thorns, and its hardiness in enduring the severest winters wit1 out injury, it is universally preferred for making fences and hedges. The berries during winter afford food to various birds, but may be more usefully employed in fattening hogs : the wood. is very tough, and, like the white-beam hawthorn,' converted into axle-trees and handles for tools.
There are several varieties of this species, of which we shall mention only the celebrated Glastonbury Thorn. It is in bloom twice in the year : the winter blossoms (about the size of a sixpence) appear about Christmas, and much earlier, if the winter be very severe. These, however, produce no fruit. This extraordinary thorn has been celebrated for its age, for nearly a whole century ; the oldest inhabitants never having observed it in any other than its present state. The berries of this miraculous variety contain only one seed; and, when sown, produce plants which differ in no respect from the common hawthorn.
3. The torminalis, Wild Service-? tree, Sorb, or Service Hawthorn, which grows in woods and hedges, and flowers in the month of May. Its dark yellow berries ripen in October, and may be eaten either raw or preserved in sugar. They also yield, on fermentation, a good vinegar, as well as an ardent spirit by distilling them: where they abound, fugs may be easily fattened.