by Bill Vaughn

"Hawthorn" traces tree's history with humankind

From the Missoulian, May 28, 2016

George Orwell's observation that "to see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle," comes to mind at the beginning of "Hawthorn," by Bill Vaughn, a magazine writer with bylines in Outside magazine, Men's Journal, Salon and many other outlets. [read more]

Hawthorn's Heritage

From Optima magazine, 31 July, 2015, by Jack Watkins

". . . it might be a little surprising to find that what is probably by far the most interesting single book ever to have been written about the tree is by an American who lives in the state of Montana." [read more]

Deep roots 

From The Missoula Independent, 25 June 2015, By Chris La Tray

“Some years ago writer and graphic designer Bill Vaughn ventured forth, chainsaw in hand, to clear "Dark Acres"the parcel of land he had recently purchased near Missoula—of a nasty patch of thorny bushes. Closer inspection revealed they weren't bushes at all, but a tangled mess of a single tree, eight trunks sprawled out in all directions, covered with lichen and caught up with strands of fence webbing, wild roses and bird nests. An afternoon's conflict ensued, and Vaughn was turned away bloodied and muddied, wondering just what the hell he was facing. It turned out his adversary was a hawthorn, and after only a month of research, Vaughn was stuck on the tree as if he were impaled. “His new book, Hawthorn: The Tree That Has Nourished, Healed, and Inspired Through the Ages, covers much ground in just 224 pages.”  [read more]

• In its Dec. 24 issue the Independent named Hawthorn one of nine "standout" books of 2015.

The Art and Science of the Hedgerow

From Science Daily, 17 May 2015, by Nathan Seppa

"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." [read more]


From Natural History, May 2015, by Laurence A. Marshall

"Vaughn is clearly captivated by the hawthorn, both as a natural phenomenon and as a mythic force. He admires its grizzled appearance, its value to man and animal, and its ability to survive drought, fire, grazing animals, and the plow. Since that first encounter with its thorns, he's devoted fifteen years to exploring the genus's rich history and distilling it into a narrative. Call it a gentle madness if you will, but I recommend sharing it."


From Hortus, Autumn 2015, by Charles Elliott

"The author's assiduous information gathering, however, does not represent the sole charm of this book. What you have to appreciate is the slightly zany enthusiasm with which he launches into his subject, and occasionally out of it." [read the entire review]

Considering the hawthorn tree

From the Native plant Society of Texas, by Bill Scheick

"In Hawthorn: The Tree That Has Nourished, Healed and Inspired Through the Ages, author Bill Vaughn considers some of this botanic complexity. Vaughn also appears to be interested in recovering our lost memory of the role of thornapples in our cultural history. The plant was cultivated to serve as fence-like hedgerows to keep large animals in or out of fields. That may sound easy to do: this shrub-like tree is comprised of tangled living and dead branches that are gnarled and twisted. Yet both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson failed at this kind of cultivation. As Vaughn nicely details, there is an art to hedging with mayhaws, including the horticultural practice of plashing. [read more]

Website designed by Bill Vaughn