Wulf's Webden

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Crataegus monogyna

Aboroculturists will probably have noted from the title that I’m pondering hawthorn. A common tree in the UK, it is often found in rural hedgerows – the thorny spines make a good barrier while the berries feed many animals (and are human edible if not, in my experience, an exceptional taste experience).

More specifically, I’m thinking about hawthorn wood. Typically it has a greenish bark, white outer and orange heartwood that dries to a more mellow orange when split open. It is well regarded by woodworkers for being very hard although the twisted growth of the tree means plenty of knots and contortions so long, unblemished pieces are hard to come by.

In particular, this afternoon, I’ve been pondering hawthorn as firewood. A good hot burner when well seasoned but (guess what I’ve been doing) a real workout to split. Those knots mean that it helps to cut logs fairly short before splitting and it has a tendency to shatter rather than cleave when you hit it in the right place. If you were growing trees for firewood, I think you’d grow something else but, when a tree dies or has to be removed or trimmed, it is still a gift to value.

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