Prunus spinosa, called blackthorn or sloe, is a species of flowering plant in the rose family Rosaceae. It is native to Europe, western Asia, and locally in northwest Africa. It is also locally naturalised in New Zealand, Tasmania and eastern North America
The fruits have been used to make sloe gin in Britain, and the wood used for making walking sticks or the shillelagh by the Irish. Blackthorn shrub in the Vogelsberg
Prunus spinosa is a large deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 5 metres (16 ft) tall, with blackish bark and dense, stiff, spiny branches. The leaves are oval, 2ñ4.5 centimetres (0.79ñ1.77 in) long and 1.2ñ2 centimetres (0.47ñ0.79 in) broad, with a serrated margin. The flowers are about 1.5 centimetres (1/2 in) in diameter, with five creamy-white petals; they are produced shortly before the leaves in early spring, and are hermaphroditic and insect-pollinated. The fruit, called a "sloe", is a drupe 10ñ12 millimetres (3/8ñ1/2 in) in diameter, black with a purple-blue waxy bloom, ripening in autumn and harvested ñ traditionally, at least in the UK ñ in October or November after the first frosts. Sloes are thin-fleshed, with a very strongly astringent flavour when fresh.
Blackthorn usually grows as a bush but can grow to become a tree to a height of 6 m. Its branches usually grow forming a tangle.
The foliage is sometimes eaten by the larvae of Lepidoptera, including the small eggar moth, emperor moth, willow beauty, white-pinion spotted, common emerald, November moth, pale November moth, mottled pug, green pug, brimstone moth, feathered thorn, brown-tail, yellow-tail, short-cloaked moth, lesser yellow underwing, lesser broad-bordered yellow underwing, double square-spot, black hairstreak, brown hairstreak, hawthorn moth (Scythropia crataegella) and the case-bearer moth Coleophora anatipennella. Dead blackthorn wood provides food for the caterpillars of the concealer moth Esperia oliviella.
The pocket plum gall of the fruit caused by the fungus Taphrina pruni produces an elongated and flattened gall, devoid of a stone.