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The art and science of the hedgerow

New book explores spiky hawthorn trees’ many uses throughout history

By
4:00pm, May 17, 2015
hawthorn hedge row

Hawthorn hedges, such as this one in England, have played an outsized role in history.

Hawthorn
Bill Vaughn
Yale Univ, $30.00

It’s a testament to doggedness that people through the centuries have extracted any benefit at all from the hawthorn tree. It’s a gnarly, unforgiving thing with spikes. It takes real persistence and thick gloves to domesticate. In some places, hawthorns are considered giant weeds. A dense thicket of the bushy trees calls to mind the supernatural hedge that encircled Sleeping Beauty for 100 years.

“A hawthorn is not a tree most people want to hug,

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