Crataegus monogyna is normally an unassuming little tree. In May, though, it gives the English countryside a frothy, lacy glamour that nothing else can equal.
For me the flower of England is not the red Tudor rose but the white hawthorn. I used to commute from London to Kent and remember my astonishment – every spring again – when suddenly the hawthorn in the hedges erupted into flower, spectacularly carpeting the countryside.
Also called May-tree, the hawthorn encompasses hundreds of species and is a member of the rose family. Not just pretty, it is edible too. In spring, the leaves can be eaten as salad. In autumn, the fruit is used to make jelly, homemade wine, flavoured gin or ketchup.