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This plant is well known to city dwellers. Perhaps now in cities it can be found even more often than in rural areas. This plant is a hawthorn.
Hawthorns (Crataegus) are tall deciduous shrubs or small trees 4-5 meters high (some species can reach 8-10 meters) with numerous thorns on the stems.
They belong to the Rosaceae family. According to experts, the botanical Latin name for hawthorn comes from the Greek word "strong". Indeed, anyone who tried to bend or break a branch of this plant could be convinced of the strength of its wood.
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There are many species of hawthorns growing in the world, of which about twenty can be found in our country, but the most common are common or prickly hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) and blood-red hawthorn (Crataegus sanguinea). They are very similar in appearance, you can distinguish them by the shape of the fruit: in the first they are oblong, and in the second they are round.
Their leaves are pinnately lobed, the flowers are white with a not very pleasant smell, bloom in May-June, collected in corymbose inflorescences, on which, after flowering by autumn, in August-September, red fruits ripen. Ordinary people call them berries, and experts call them apples. They really look like small apples on a long stalk, especially in the American and Canadian species of hawthorn brought to our country - their fruits are up to 3-4 cm in diameter and look like Chinese apples. And this is no coincidence - the hawthorn belongs to the Yablonev subfamily.
There are regions where hawthorns grow abundantly on forest edges, on the banks of rivers and lakes, for example, in the southern part of the forest and forest-steppe zones of Russia. But thanks to their unpretentiousness, frost resistance, the ability to tolerate gas pollution and smoke pollution, these plants in Soviet times began to be widely used to decorate gardens, squares, roadside strips and in many other regions, primarily in cities.
Hawthorns are quite decorative: at first they are decorated with white flowers against a background of bright greenery, which lasts until autumn, and then it turns into orange-red tones. In addition, then clusters of fruits begin to ripen, turning red, which remain on the bushes for quite a long time. In addition, hawthorns can easily be clipped and can be shaped to shape the branches and bush into the desired shape.
Gardeners and summer residents appreciated the viability of hawthorns. They began to create a dense, impenetrable hedge from these plants, and also use hawthorn seedlings as a rootstock for more thermophilic or capricious crops, for example, pears, quince, and apple trees. And breeders have developed interesting decorative forms of hawthorn.
For example, a variety of a seemingly familiar species is now widely known - thorny hawthorn - Paul's Scarlet, which has pink-red double flowers. This plant is very beautiful during flowering. True, he also has one drawback - it is only decorative: after flowering, the fruits are not tied.
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Reproduction and cultivation of hawthorn
Ornamental Hawthorn Paul Scarlet
It is not difficult to grow hawthorns. The main thing is to get seedlings. They can be bought in the nursery, grown from seeds, propagated by layering or root cuttings. Each of the breeding methods has its own nuances. For example, to obtain seedlings, seeds require long-term stratification, sometimes young plants can appear only two years after the moment of sowing the seeds.
To obtain root cuttings or cuttings, you need to have adult hawthorn bushes, for example, in the garden of friends or neighbors. But if you already have seedlings, then planting and caring for them will not be particularly difficult. Hawthorn plants are not capricious in the choice of soil, they are winter-hardy. But it is advisable to choose a place for planting that is well-lit by the sun, because in the shade and partial shade, the flowering of hawthorn and the formation of fruits are weaker.
It is also necessary to take into account one more requirement of this plant - it does not like acidic soils, therefore, when planting, it is advisable to carefully, so as not to burn the roots, adding a small amount of lime. Soils can be of any quality, but, of course, hawthorns will grow better on fertile, drained soils. If you cannot provide such a condition, then add high-quality soil to the planting hole - everyone can do it - prepare a mixture of humus, sand and turf.
If you are going to grow hawthorn in your garden, you should not forget that it belongs to the Apple family, which means the presence of the same diseases and pests. This means that it will be necessary to follow not only the apple trees, but also the hawthorn, because, having settled on it, the pests will then quite freely move on to the apple trees. Experts believe that to obtain medicinal raw materials - flowers and fruits - it is quite enough on the site of one adult hawthorn plant.
Usually two to three-year-old seedlings are planted in a permanent place. You can plant more mature plants, but every year they have more and more root systems that make planting and survival of the plant difficult. For planting, dig a hole 60x60x60 cm in size.Place drainage on the bottom of it, for example, broken brick and add a fertile mixture. When planting, do not deepen the root collar - it should be at the level of the soil of the site. After planting, water the seedling and then irrigate regularly as needed, taking into account the weather conditions.
If you want to grow several hawthorn plants, leave at least two meters between them.
If you want to create a green hedge, you need to dig a continuous trench, into which you also need to add drainage and nutrient soil, and then install seedlings. In this case, the distance between them should be from 80 cm to 1 meter. With careful care, regular shearing, the hedge will turn out to be practically impassable for both animals and people. The dense interweaving of branches and thorns will stop any uninvited guest.
Read the ending. ← Therapeutic use of fruits and flowers of hawthorn
Photo by E. Valentinov