General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Shrub
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Slightly alkaline (7.4 – 7.8)
Moderately alkaline (7.9 – 8.4)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 5a -28.9 °C (-20 °F) to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 9b
Plant Height: 6 to 18 feet
Leaves: Deciduous
Fruit: Showy
Edible to birds
Other: 1/2 inch drupes are black with a bluish-purple waxy bloom.
Fruiting Time: Fall
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: White
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Spring
Uses: Windbreak or Hedge
Medicinal Herb
Will Naturalize
Edible Parts: Fruit
Eating Methods: Cooked
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Resistances: Humidity tolerant
Drought tolerant
Salt tolerant
Toxicity: Other: Leaves and seeds contain toxins which is readily detected by the bitter taste.
Pollinators: Various insects
Miscellaneous: With thorns/spines/prickles/teeth

Common names
  • Sloe
  • Blackthorn
  • Mother of the Woods
  • Dark Crone of the Woods
  • Husband and Wife Tree

  • Posted by Cakeholemoon (Garfield, WA - Zone 6a) on Mar 15, 2018 9:39 PM concerning plant:
    Sloe gin is made from the Blackthorn drupes. I discovered a hidden thicket of Prunus spinosa at the Washington State University Arboretum in January 2018. I could see the blue color of the berries from quite a distance across the open meadow, and I wondered: what in the world would be so blue, in such large numbers, in the middle of winter here in Washington? As I got closer, I couldn't believe my eyes! There were hundreds of powder blue balls covering the branches. I had never seen these little trees before. I had no idea what they were. The fruit looked for all the world like concord grapes, only they didn't hang in clusters and there were no vines, just spiny branches, like a plum tree. Because of that, I knew they had to be in the Prunus genus. I ate some and they were very good and sweet. Probably because they had been through many "frosts" and had been on the branches for quite some time. They were definitely good and ripe! I kept the pits from the ones I ate and planted them in some pots in my green house. I hope I will see little sprouts this spring. I will return to them again to see how they look in the spring, summer, and fall, and of course, take more photos!
  • Posted by jmorth (central Illinois) on May 24, 2014 8:23 PM concerning plant:
    Wood from this tree is fashioned into walking sticks, canes, and clubs. Blackthorn sticks are carried by commissioned officers of the Royal Irish Regiment.
  • Posted by Mindy03 (Delta KY) on Feb 9, 2012 5:07 PM concerning plant:
    Valuable source of nectar and pollen for honey bees
  • Posted by skopjecollection (SE europe(balkans) - Zone 6b) on Apr 6, 2021 11:00 AM concerning plant:
    A somewhat thorny, durable shrub with glaucous purple fruit and a reddish colored trunk. It grows wild here, often forming thickets. The berry fruit is edible, though palatability is another matter. Taste like like a tart & sour plum, and a lot more resinous (which transfers to any type of liqueur made from this, like a resinous tart plum). Plant is very hardy, often growing along exposed mountain and hillside meadows.

    I wouldn't recommend growing it (save maybe for bonsai purposes) due to the problems it poses. It's quite durable and hard to root out, it's spiny and may pose a threat, and it can spread aggressively.

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