Hainault Forest Website

Tree identification

Blackthorn (Sloe) Prunus spinosa  &  Cherry Plum P. cerasifera

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                   Twig of Blackthorn. Buds alternate on side shoot which may end in a thorn. No thorns on main stem .

Blackthorn scrub bursts into flower. Blackthorn flowers appear before the leaves appear. Photo:   Vic George Blackthorn simple pinnate leaf, serrated edge
Sloes - bitter to the taste.

CHERRY PLUM

Flowers two or three weeks before the blackthorn comes into flower. Flowers before the leaves appear. Photo: 3rd April 2006. Lambourne End.

CHERRY PLUM

Prunus cerasifera

A species of wild plum found scattered throughout the forest.

 

BLACKTHORN or SLOE  Prunus spinosa

 

Planted widely as a hedgerow species, blackthorn is an invasive species which spreads mainly by root suckers. The name is apt as in the winter the twigs are black, although appearing purple in sunlight. It is present throughout the forest, often lining the woodland edges. It affords protection for rabbits and birdlife. Flowers appear before the leaves in early spring, and the fruit known as sloes are bitter to taste but used in recipes after the first frosts. A few scattered bushes in flower very early in the spring are probably Cherry plum P. cerasifera which flowers 2-3 weeks before the blackthorn.

 
                       Blackthorn scrub at the top end of the Common in January, shows purple in the sunlight