Earlier in this month of May, I was with James Covenant having a detailed look at the eternally intriguing, and often baffling, veteran hawthorns.
This is a large group of several hundred veteran hawthorn in historic parkland. We first looked at them over 20 years ago.
Some have disappeared without trace; the only remnants of others are the deer-browsed shoots that have sprung up from their remaining roots. While many others thrive with cavities and rot-sites peppered with exit holes of their dependant invertebrates.
It is not uncommon to find ancient hawthorn fallen and layering in dense scrub, where they are protected from deer browsing. Then when you look closely you realise that the roots of the tree are actually the location where the previous incarnation of this tree fell and layered…..and if you look again there are indications of the previous layering to that…I have seen instances where I could trace layering that had occurred 4 or 5 times over decades or maybe centuries…and the hawthorn tree had moved maybe 12 or 15 metres in that time by collapsing and layering and growing and doing it again.
Today, the hawthorn is in glorious blossom, providing an essential nectar source for many deadwood dependant invertebrates, many of which will be laying their eggs in the deadwood and decay in the hawthorns, nearby veteran oaks, and other trees.
And so, the cycle continues…
Luke Fay (link to: https://www.linkedin.com/in/luke-fay-02aa3913/ )