independent

Friday 17 November 2017

Haws and sloes bountiful in the autumn bushes

By Jim Hurley - Nature Trail

Sloes, the large bluish-black fruits of the Blackthorn have a dense, waxy bloom
Sloes, the large bluish-black fruits of the Blackthorn have a dense, waxy bloom

Autumn brings a bounty of haws and sloes to wayside bushes. This year, haws seem to be especially abundant. In the past, such a great abundance was interpreted as a sign of a hard winter to come.

The logic used by those who used signs in nature to forecast the weather dictated that nature knew that a hard winter lay ahead and was therefore laying down an extra generous crop of haws to ensure that wild birds were fed during the anticipated difficult times ahead.

Those in the scientific community take a different view and assign such pseudoscientific weather forecasting to the paranormal, that is, the existence of phenomena that lie beyond normal experience or scientific explanation.

The paranormal world is rife with words like 'energy' and terms like 'force fields' borrowed from the scientific world and while such words and terms have very precise definitions and meanings in the scientific world they tend to be used in such a vague way in the paranormal world that 'explanations' become a matter of belief rather than scientific fact.

However, that said, as more is learned about how our brains work and what the mind really is, scientific enquiry may very well get involved in areas such as extrasensory perception that have heretofore been the preserve of the paranormal.

But, back to haws. A great bounty of haws at this time of year has more to do with the past than the future. The fruit on the bushes at present is the result of events that happened last spring. When the flowers opened on the Hawthorn last May the weather was fine and settled. Insects successfully pollinated the blossoms and there were no strong winds to rip the fertilised blooms off the bushes.

What we are experiencing now is the culmination of a chain of events that commenced some four months ago rather than a preparation for a run-in to a hard winter ahead.

The small red haws are the fruits of the Hawthorn while the larger bluish-black fruits with a dense, waxy bloom are those of the Blackthorn, a wild cherry. Both are thorny bushes and both are members of the large Rose family.

The 'black' part of the name of the Blackthorn refers to the darker colour of the bark rather than the colour of the sloes, its fruits. The Hawthorn has paler and brighter back as recorded in its name in Irish: 'Sceach gheal'.

Wexford People

Promoted Links