Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Magnoliopsida - Order: Rosales - Family: Rosaceae
The popularity of blackthorn comes from its fruits, the sloes, which are a vital ingredient of Sloe Gin. (The other ingredients are gin... and time!) Blackthorn is mainly used as hedging, but individual trees can grow to five metres or more in favourable situations.
This is one of the first trees to bloom in springtime. Its white flowers open long before any leaf buds have burst, and they brighten up hedgerows in what can otherwise be a very dull time of year.
Sloes are very bitter until they have been caught by the first heavy frost of winter. November is a good time to collect them... if the birds have not done so already.