Blackthorn – Prunus spinosa

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Prunus spinosa 

Blackthorn or sloe, is a species of flowering plant in the rose family Rosaceae. Native to Europe, western Asia, and locally in northwest Africa, it is also locally naturalized in New Zealand, Tasmania and eastern North America. A prickly, deciduous hedging plant that provides seasonal interest, it produces white flowers in the spring and sloes in the autumn. It grows best in moist, well-drained soil and thrives in full sunlight though since the plant is hardy it grows in a wide range of conditions.

The shrub, with its long, sharp thorns, is traditionally used in Britain and other parts of northern Europe to make a cattle-proof hedge. The fruit is similar to a small damson or plum, suitable for preserves, but rather tart and astringent for eating, unless it is picked after the first few days of autumn frost.