The local hedgerows are currently full of white blackthorn flowers.Photo of blackthorn flowers

Blackthorn, Prunus spinosa, was commonly used to make hedges. It forms a tangled thicket which, together with the long sharp thorns, keeps livestock in and rustlers out. Unlike hawthorn the white blossoms appear before the leaves, creating a pleasing contrast with the dark stems. Later these will form small blue berries called sloes. These are disgustingly bitter and the only practical use for them is in flavouring gin, here’s how you do it.Photo of blackthorn flowers

These blackthorn hedgerows are invaluable to wildlife, creating habitats for nesting birds and foraging hedgehogs. They also attract many insects including night flying moths. There is a fair bit of folklore connected to the blackthorn, it was thought that witches made their wands from it. The Irish Shillelagh is a walking stick/club made from blackthorn. These were used during duels and later in a form of martial art. A more unpleasant use is as a cure for warts: a snail is pierced as many times as you have warts and then impaled upon a blackthorn. As the hapless mollusc dies, so the warts disappear. Please do not try this at home, it is uncommon harsh on the snail.

9 thoughts on “Blackthorn

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