Members of the Maltese National Commission for UNESCO together with the Commission's chairman, Professor Henry Frendo, gathered round on Saturday 8th March to plant a rare indigenous tree in the Kitchen Garden of Sant' Anton Palace in Attard, followed by a special tour of the Palace and Gardens led by Brigadier Claude Gaffiero.  The tree is the Maltese hawthorn, Zaghrun (Crataegus monogyna).

Professor Henry Frendo stated that the occasion was intended as a lasting gesture by the Commission to instil respect for our native flora and for the benefit of future generations, as well as a farewell to the outgoing President, Dr George Abela, who had opened the Kitchen Garden and made it accessible to the public, including the many children who now frequented it. Members of the Commission each added some soil brought from their respective area of residence marking the event with a congenial national quality.

 Professor Frendo thanked the tree's donor, the Commission's executive secretary Mr Sammy Vella who is an agricultural expert, and their tour guide Brigadier Claude Gaffiero, who had served as ADC for many years and knew the Sant'Anton Palace and Gardens probably better than anyone else. For educational purposes, he added, a lectern explaining the history and qualities of the Maltese hawthorn would be erected next to the UNESCO plaque identifying the tree, which directly faces the entrance to the Kitchen Garden.

The photographs below show Professor Frendo planting the tree with members of the UNESCO National Commission participating in the event.



Prof. Henry Frendo planting the Maltese hawthorn (Zaghrun) at San Anton


 from left to right: Alfred E. Baldacchino, Dr Ruth Bianco, Sammy Vella,Philip Cassar, Prof. Henry Frendo, Godfrey Xuereb, Chev. Ray Cassar, Prof. Frank Ventura, Mariella Bose,  Christine Pace


Note:  The Common Hawthorn is a rare Maltese indigenous tree, which can be found growing wild among the rocks in valleys.  It grows up to 10 meters. It is a deciduous tree that sheds all its leaves around November, and hibernates during the cold winter months.  Towards March, the tree comes to life with the first signs of leaves. As spring approaches white fragrant flowers, 1.5 to 2 cm in diameter and grouped in bunches, cover the tree. Each flower, fertilised with the help of insect pollinators, changes into a fruit. This resembles a small sweet tasting red apple with a diameter of around 1cm, which is also edible. These appear around July and August and ripen between October and November. The fruit has one single seed inside.


Zaghrun Fruit

Zaghrun Flowers

(more photographs are available in the Gallery Section)
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