Blackthorn, Prunus spinosa

Identification Features

  • Bark: Bark is smooth and dark brown to almost black. 
  • Twigs: Fine, downy at first, purple-grey, stiff. Many side shoots terminate in spines.
  • Buds: Very small (1-2mm). Some on the actual spines.

Description/General Character:
Messy-looking, dense, twiggy, spiny, spreading. Generally looks like a big bush rather than a tree. Can form impenetrable thickets. Can be surrounded by suckers. Hard to see any central trunk.

Widespread and common throughout Europe (except the far north) and into northern Asia.

Woodland, hedgerows and scrub. Likes heavier soils.

Other Observations:
Blackthorn is a plum. The fruit (sloes) can remain wizened on the branches over winter. Blackthorn flowers in the early Spring - before it have put out any leaves. Blossom is dense.

Author: Paul

Paul has had an interest in the outdoors since he was a young kid. Walking, tracking and exploring the wilderness around him, from disused overgrown railway lines to the vast wilderness of the UK national parks. Over the last few years Paul has honed his skills into specific areas of bushcraft and survival. He is an expert in map reading, shelter building and knots, traps and fishing.


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