Prunus spinosa other wise know as blackthorn is native to Europe. it is a small tree/shrub that grows in hedgerows and has spiky branches. In spring it produces beautiful white flowers and in the Autumn it produces blueish-black berries known as sloes.
This is what they look like
I remember when I was a child my mum took me sloe picking. She taught me at a young age never to eat wild berries unless I was sure they were edible as some are poisonous and may cause bad tummy ache or worse. as these berries were new to me I asked her if I could eat one, casually she replied "yes if you want to". Expecting the berry to be sweet and delicious I popped in to my mouth and began to bite down. It DID NOT meet my expectations and I quickly spat it out. It wasn't sweet and yummy but instead EXTREMELY sour. it was one of the worst things i have ever put in my mouth.
So if they taste so bad, why pick the sloes in the first place i hear you ask.... Well i will tell you why.... I pick them to make sloe gin.
For those of you who have never had sloe gin or don't know what it is, you are truly missing out. It is one of my favourite alcoholic winter beverages. It is sweet tasting with a warming sensation, perfect for Christmas presents and surprisingly easy to make. It also keeps for a long time and matures well.
Here's me drinking the last of some sloe gin I had made 2 years previously.
Please make sure you have the land owners permission before you start. Have fun!!
5 Facts About Prunus Spinosa
1. Sloes can also be made into jam or preserved in vinegar
2. You can use the juice from the fruit to dye linen which is red to start with but turns blue when washed.
3.blackthorn wood makes good fire wood, that burns slowly with a good heat and little smoke.
4.the health benefits of the plant include relief for fatigue, helps with digestion, helps to relieve a sore throat and also helps with kidney function.
5. Birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife and insects love it.
"Don't look back, you're not going that way".