Can Rabbits Eat Hawthorn Berries – ) is a long-lived evergreen species that grows along the southeastern coast of Australia. Its distribution is shown by blue dots on the map. From Adelaide to Brisbane, this plant can thrive in a variety of climates and soils, although it prefers humid and sub-humid regions where annual rainfall exceeds 600mm. It is this incredible adaptability that has allowed hawthorn to take on so many properties. You may have seen it acting as an alternative to fencing around paddocks or along waterways, or even as an ornamental plant in gardens. Its dense network of branches and sharp thorns make it an excellent contender for fencing, which is why it was brought to Australia from Western Europe and the Mediterranean with the early English settlers. Since then, this multipurpose shrub has taken root (literally and figuratively!) in the Australian landscape.
Although labeled as a shrub, hawthorn can look like a tree when fully grown. It can reach up to 7 m in height and 4 m in width. They have recognizable flowers (white, cream or pink depending on the subspecies) and bright red fruits that hang from the branches with long spines. These sharp spines can grow up to 25mm in length!
Can Rabbits Eat Hawthorn Berries
This article is written to help you understand how to identify and manage hawthorn while prioritizing your safety, and to learn about the native plants it displaces.
Winter Wildlife Watch
Hawthorn plants have evolved to efficiently spread their seeds among native wildlife. Birds that nest in the branches and mammals (including foxes, possums and wallaroos) that wander through them seeking protection love the taste of hawthorn berries. By consuming these bushy fruits, moving across the nearby landscape and shedding them, the seeds are scattered far beyond the parent tree. These sneaky plants can use us for transportation too! People and machinery moving through hawthorn-infested areas can transfer the seeds to clothing, shoes and farm equipment. According to Landscape South Australia, one bush can produce up to 2000 seeds!
Due to its impact on the diversity of local ecosystems, especially riparian areas. Although they provide a level of habitat for a small number of species, hawthorn monocultures do not provide habitat for the diverse array of species found in comparable natural systems. Seedlings can easily establish in fenced areas along riparian corridors and thrive in the deeper soils and higher moisture these areas provide. They often become dominant where logging and grazing have reduced the resilience of the system. Once grown, hawthorn suppresses the growth of ground (underground) vegetation with its dense thorny thickets. This provides a haven for smaller invasive pests such as rabbits, brown apple moths and cherry snails, reducing native biodiversity along waterways and leaving larger native species without suitable habitat. While hawthorn also provides cover for small birds and native mammals, native vegetation offers greater value because hawthorn is so successful that it can form a monoculture, suffocating plant diversity and reducing biodiversity. This is particularly problematic in naturally treeless wetlands and marshy meadows, where ecosystems rely on a variety of ground cover plants to thrive. That’s why we encourage people to manage hawthorn along waterways.
Uncultivated hawthorn plants also have a negative impact on land where domestic animals graze. Thanks to rapid propagation techniques, hawthorn plantations can easily spread far beyond intended planting areas into native grasslands, woodlands, woodlands and pastures. Thickets disrupt the grazing capacity of livestock because the plants are dense and the prickly spines make them uncomfortable to be around. If taken on the coat, the composition may be responsible for further transport of the seeds to unintended areas.
The video below features one of our Rivers of Carbon program officers, Ian Rayner from Greening Australia, talking about hawthorn and why we encourage landowners to control this invasive weed.
Garden Plants That Rabbits Love To Eat
The following sections will give you some tips on how to manage invasive hawthorn. As always, planning restoration activities for your property should consider the landscape as a whole, with the larger values and functions of the landscape in mind. Any plant earthwork that needs to be organized around protecting biodiversity, canopy, understory and soil cover.
We recommend that you get some local expertise so that you can adapt and modify these recommendations according to your site and situation. This is a very important step because in areas where hawthorn is well established, management must be strategic and well planned. It is not recommended to remove dense hawthorn infestations where there is no other vegetation to replace them. In this situation, a strategy must be developed that prioritizes containment and reduction of infestation over time. In the case of multiple plants, they should be controlled as a high priority to prevent further spread. Local councils, local land offices, land care groups and catchment management organizations are great sources of information.
Angus Gibson and his family have been custodians of this property since the late 1920s. History, beauty and biodiversity drive their commitment to land restoration and sustainable agriculture. In the late 1990s, large invasions of hawthorn buried the riverside landscape. Angus, alongside his 10-year river restoration plan, had a vision to make his riparian corridors healthy again. Through fencing, revegetation and hawthorn removal, water and quality have improved for both people and livestock. Angus has become a Rivers of Carbon champion farmer through successful land management. The image below visualizes the huge difference that responsible land management can make to river ecosystems.
There are three main strategies for controlling invasive hawthorn populations. Remember that any habitat that is lost to hawthorn must be replaced with other native plants to maintain biodiversity.
Plants Rabbits Will Not Eat
The best way to ensure that hawthorn does not grow and spread on your property is to avoid planting them in the first place! Rivers of Carbon, Australian Native Plants Society and The Understorey Network offer excellent advice on alternative species that can replace hawthorn (eg Kurrajong, Wattle, River Bottlebrush, River Tea-Tree). It is especially important to choose alternative native plants that offer dense habitat or other resources such as food sources for native species, do not spread easily, and can still act as windbreaks and natural paddock fences. Naturally treeless intact marsh meadows and wetlands usually do not require further intervention as they tend to regenerate on their own.
A planting day at one of our Rivers of Carbon Breadalbane sites where we work with the landowner to fence the stock, protect watercourses and restore vegetation. Photo: Lucy Wenger.
Clearing involves removing seedlings and small bushes using a shovel or hoe. At this age, hawthorn plants have a limited root system and are easily pulled out of the soil. Eradication of this species is best done throughout the year to ensure maximum success. Unfortunately, while this technique is effective in preventing new seedlings from taking root, it has no effect on mature shrubs. Pulling out fully grown hawthorns is expensive and difficult, so it’s best to deal with the existing plants with Step #3.
Herbicides are chemical substances used to control unwanted or harmful weeds such as hawthorn. They often require the least effort and give the best results. Herbicides are a more targeted way to rid your property of hawthorn and when applied carefully can protect nearby native flora and fauna. It’s really important to do your research before using a chemical near a waterway.
Vita Licious Herbal Blend
Most herbicides are not registered for use in and near waterways as they are extremely sensitive areas. The safest approach is to complete a course on chemical use and handling, and to consult your local council’s biosecurity officer and/or local land office about the approaches they recommend. See the NSW Weed Control Handbook for more information.
For hawthorn, it is best to apply herbicides from summer to fall and leave the plants alone during the winter while they are dormant. There are three main techniques for applying herbicides:
Complete destruction of hawthorn is not always necessary. Although hawthorn invasion is a symptom of human intervention in the landscape, it can be important habitat for vulnerable species such as the Gang-gang cockatoo. Removal should not be done without consideration of the surrounding ecosystems. Any eradication of major infestations requires integrated strategic eradication plans, discussed in partnership with relevant land care groups and councils. commonly called hawthorn, thorn, apple thorn, maywood, or hawthorn. Crataegus is derived from the Greek “kratos” meaning strength, due to the great strength of the wood, and “akis” meaning sharp, referring to the thorns. The name “haw”, originally an Old English term for hedge, also applies to the fruit.
The fruits are edible and are sometimes called “bread and cheese” in rural England because they are used to make jelly and home wine.
Hawthorn Tree Not Flowering
Many folklore stories surround the hawthorn in Irish, Gaelic and Celtic cultures, where it is considered bad luck to witness the uprooting of a hawthorn tree.
Hawthorn is well suited to a proper Degu diet as their sensitive G.I. tracts are not used for wet and sugary food. They can easily become diabetic.
Degu are native to the dry plains of the Andes in Chile and therefore must be fed a variety of herbs, leaves, roots and some seeds. Even the most common pellets are questionable since