By Dave Coulter
Hidden just south of the train tracks by the car wash on First Avenue is a wild hawthorn tree patiently awaiting liberation. It seems to me that hawthorns are an underappreciated member of the Illinois landscape . They‘re tough trees - and this specimen is tougher than most - suffering the encroachment of both buckthorn and refuse.
To my eye, hawthorns have all of the nobility and character of oaks, in a more pint-sized ornamental form. These understory trees can be found all along the Des Plaines River, and their berries are a food source for wildlife. Commuters into Chicago can see dozens of hawthorns along the Green Line near the Conservatory in Garfield Park.