Why the blackthorn has white flowers (049)

In the early spring you will see the flowering bushes of the blackthorn  lighting up the otherwise still bare winter landscape. The abundance of white flowers heralds the coming of spring and lifts people’s spirits. Did you know that the large white flowers witness to the innocence of this bush with its long thorns? Listen to this Easter legend:

In times past the blackthorn only had small uninteresting flowers. This did not bother the bush, because he knew how much people valued his healthy bluish-purple fruit in the autumn. One day, almost 2000 years ago a Roman soldier was ordered to collect thorn bearing sticks. He had to make a crown for the prisoner by the name of Jesus who was to be crucified on Mount Golgotha near Jerusalem. This soldier was violent by nature, so he searched for the sharpest twigs and sticks he could find. After collecting some from the rose and the bramble, he discovered a bush with very long sharp points, the blackthorn. It was these long thorns which would torture Jesus the most.
When the prisoner was forced to walk to his death on that particular Friday, the blackthorn discovered that twigs from his bush had been woven into the crown Jesus was wearing. In his distress and shame, he let his branches droop down and resolved  never to flower again. He sent prayer after prayer to heaven asking forgiveness for the dreadful part his thorns had played in the crown of thorns.
One evening the blackthorn heard a voice talking to him in gentle tones: “Dear blackthorn, it was not your fault that your twigs were used in my Son’s crown of thorns. You could not walk away. The real culprit is the soldier who abused your twigs to make a cruel crown. You are not to blame. To make your innocence clear to the whole world, you will be the first bush to flower with large bright blossom in the spring. These flowers will be white, because white is the colour of innocence. As winter draws to a close each year people will look forward to seeing your flowers. They  will be a symbol of the end to the dark winter days and be a herald of the first signs of spring, of a new and fertile season.”

Ever since then the blackthorn is a mass of white flowers from top to bottom on its otherwise bare twigs.In the early spring white hedges of flowering blackthorn line the roadsides and the same tall white bushes brighten up the bare landscape.

The blackthorn shows the flowers flower on the bare wood before the leaves unfurl. The honey in the flowers provide the first food for the ants, the early bees and flies. Though the berries always taste very sour, they only become  edible for humans after a spell of sharp frost. Primitive people used to bury the berries in the ground to further the ripings process. Roses have prickles and  blackthorns have thorns. Prickles grow on the outer layer of a twig like a protrusion. Thorns grow from within the core of a twig.The thorns of the blackthorn are effectively twigs ending in a sharp point.


© Els Baars, Natuurverhalen.nl

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Els Baars