Information on Blackthorn

Common Name: Blackthorn
Scientific Name: Prunus Spinosa
Irish Name: Draighean
Family Group: Rosaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Blackthorn is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.


This is a deciduous, sometimes dense, thorny shrub which grows abundantly throughout the country. A lesson in contrast between the white blossoms and the black branches, from March to May the shrub carries the white, 5-petalled  flowers (10-15mm) in short dense spikes which usually appear before the leaves which are oval and slightly toothed.  The fruit, known as sloes, are bitter blue-black berries like tiny plums.  Steeped for some months in gin with sugar, they produce the dangerous sloe gin!  This native plant belongs to the family Rosaceae.

I first identified this in 1976 in Laragh, Co Wicklow and photographed it near Wellingtonbridge, Co Wexford in 2007.

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Blackthorn
Blackthorn

'An old remedy for summer fevers and indigestion in children was to stew sloe leaves with clover blossoms.  Strain the liquid and take it after meals and rub the stewed leaves on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.  If a white froth came on the mixture while it was stewing, it was a sign the cure would be effective.' 

From the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin. NFC S. 36:247. From Laois.