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Blackthorn is a small deciduous tree or shrub. It is native to Europe, western Asia, and in northwest Africa. It has naturalised in New Zealand, Tasmania and eastern North America. Blacthorn is in the rose family (Rosaceae). It can grow at elevations up to 1600m (5200') and tends to prefer forest margins. It is considered one of the main scrub species in Europe and grows in sunny and open spaces, adaptable to different soils. Blackthorns with its nasty thorns, is traditionally used in Northern Europe and Britain in making a “cattle-proof” hedge. It also makes an excellent fire wood that burns slowly with a good heat and little smoke.
This tough woody tree has blackish barn and many thorns hence the name blackthorn.
Twigs are black and spiny with leaf buds along the spines.
This can grow anywhere from 1 to 5 meters (3 to 15') tall.
The leaves are oval, 2 to 4.5 cm (0.78 to 1.77") long and 1 to 2 cm (0.39 to 0.78") wide. They are slightly wrinkled, pointed at the tip and tapered at the base with a finely serrated margin.
Blackthorn flowers are hermaphrodite. White flowers appear on short stalks before the leaves in mid spring, either singularly or in pairs. The flowers are 1.5 cm in diameter, with five petals.
The fruit is called a sloe. It measures about 10 to 12 millimetres (0.39 to 0.47") in diameter, is black with a purple-blue waxy bloom, and ripens in autumn. Sloes are thin-fleshed, with a very strongly astringent flavour when fresh.
Blackthorns can be found in hedgerows and woods, usually in sunny locations.
Flowers are edible. Fruit is edible although it is sour and astringent. They are rich in vitamin C and are used in many recipes such as jams. Seeds can be eaten raw or cooked. (Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter.) Fruit is used in making wines and gins.
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