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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

More May Flower Lore

More May Flower Lore

Flowers, perhaps more than any other part of the natural world, are fascinating because of the many layers of meaning people have shrouded them in throughout history.

There is a whole sub-category of etiquette surrounding which flowers are appropriate to give at what times, and to whom. The unending rules surrounding something so simple as a flower can be dizzying.

Another aspect of flower lore concerns the designated flowers for each month of the year. What many people don’t realize is that most months actually have two official flowers. Last year, we looked at one of May’s official flowers, the lily of the valley. The other is hawthorne.

Hawthorn, also known as thornapple, refers to any one of several shrubs and trees in the rose family. Hawthorn thrives in temperate regions throughout the Northern Hemisphere, including parts of North America, Europe, and Asia.

Hawthorn trees can grow to heights of nearly 50 feet, though most are smaller, and feature throny branches and small, berry-like fruits known as “haws.” The fruit is extremely tart and not usually eater raw, but can be made into jams and jellies. The flowers are usually white or pink and feature five petals.

Herbalists have long used the plant to aid in digestion, sedation, and to treat cardiovascular issues, and the modern medical establishment has taken note, researching the plant’s effectiveness at helping individuals with heart disease.

There is a great deal of folklore surrounding hawthorn. In pre-Christian Europe, it was used for magical rune inscriptions. In Britain, hawthorn is associated with faeries and was believed to mark the entrance to their world. In Serbia and Croatia, people once believed stakes for killing vampires should be made from hawthorn.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.