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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

15 October, 2009

Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)

Walk along any hedgerow in the autumn and you we see a real variety of fruits and seeds, I thought perhaps for once, rather than take them for granted, I would take a closer look at some.

The Sloe is the fruit of the Blackthorn. Blackthorn is the first of our hedgerow plants to flower each spring with that lovely 'dusty' look as the flowers come out before the leaves.

The fruit is navy blue or black and has a sort of 'misty' coating or bloom. It is one of the larger fruits at about 1.5cms in diameter.

I have never tried eating a Sloe but some people do use it to flavour gin and other spirits. My book describes the taste as very astringent, I guess that means sharp, or perhaps sour, and it is not a popular fruit with birds and mammals, probably because of this.

There is not a lot of flesh on a Sloe, just a thin covering of the stone inside, despite being a close relative of the plum. The fruits tend to just go on ripening to a point where they fall to the ground and, once there, the outside flesh continues to rot away leaving the stone or seed to germinate forming a new plant.