Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
Hawthorn is a good example of a shrub that has been widely planted on farms in recent decades. Research on native Welsh populations of hawthorn* has demonstrated that in comparison with an imported Hungarian strain, the native plants grow better in their native and highly stressed upland environment, are more thorny (hence they were more likely to form stockproof boundaries) and suffer substantially less disease.
It is suspected that there may be considerable local genetic and adaptive variation among wild hawthorn populations throughout Britain, although this is an area which requires more research.
Variation among native wild populations may be particularly important in confering adaptive traits within stressed environments, such as on droughty or very wet soils, or in areas with climatic extremes (e.g. where there are hard winters or high rainfall).
* Funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and carried out by Dr Andrew Jones and colleagues at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER). For further information contact email@example.com