Hawthorn – Crataegus monogyna is a native tree which is seen throughout the island of Ireland. They are vital habitat providers, pollinator attractors, and a food source for wildlife. Their dense, thorny branches offer secure nesting sites for birds, and blossoms provide nectar for bees and butterflies. Come autumn, the nutrient-rich hawthorn berries become a cornerstone of many birds’ diets, supporting their survival through the colder months.
In November we were visited by storm Debi which knocked Hawthorn berries from the trees surrounding True Harvest Seeds. Debbie and Phillip took this opportunity to gather the fallen berries for their seeds. Once all of the berries were gathered together the cleaning process could commence! Top tip if you are collecting the berries from the tree. Take only the end stalks with berries as shown in A of the image below. We gathered berries that the wind had dislodged, so some were still attached to branches bearing next year’s buds. If we were to pick our berries like this it would result in loss of blooms the following year.
Initial cleaning began by pulling the individual berries from their stalks. We were fortunate to have a few visitors that day so, as we chatted, the berries piled up. They then went on to be cleaned with water – a seed cleaning technique called wet processing. Our volunteer Phillip got stuck into finding the best techniques for extracting seeds. He began by mashing the berries to loosen the pulp. He then rinsed until they were separated from the pulp. Any left were strained by Marian the following day to make sure we had extracted the greatest amount of seeds. To store them, we found out the weight of 100 seeds so we could divide them equally into packets. Debbie mixed up some vermiculite with sand and water and in went the seeds! You can see the full video of their journey here.
Although Marian was less that impressed by the look of the final product, the seeds are happy in the sand until sown. So, after days of collaborative effort, our team successfully cleaned and stored all of the Hawthorn seeds. These tree seeds are vital for planting native trees while reducing the risks associated with importing. As always, thanks to our volunteers for their dedicated work, and here’s to turning adversity into opportunity!
Stay tuned for more exciting news and join the movement to conserve our native wildflowers for generations to come! Together, we can make a difference.
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