Botanical name: Prunus spinosa
Common name: Blackthorn, Sloe
Physical appearance: A tough, woody shrub that has small leaves and vicious thorns. In late Summer, it produces berries also know as "sloe", which can look like a miniature plum.
Best places to find: Field and woodland borders.
Edible parts:Just the berries. Not good eating as they are extremely astringent, however, they can be used for flavourings.
Time of year: Late August to November.
Other uses : Making sloe gin. Pick enough sloes to half-fill a bottle. Freeze the sloes overnight to "blet" them, then pack into a sterilised botte. Add 125g caster sugar and top up with gin. Leave in a dark place for 3 months, agitating it now and again. The gin is now ready to drink. Produces a very unique flavoured drink. The alcohol soaked berries also make for a fantastic treat when dipped in chocolate, almost like a chocolate covered raisin.
Point of interest : Due to its tough, thorny nature, Blackthhorn has been used traditionally for cattle rearing in the capacity of stock fencing.
Photos courtesy of
Mnemo, Hagen Greabner and ArtMechanic via Wikipedia Creative Commons Attribution