Blackthorn, Sloe

Prunus spinosa

Family: Rosaceae (ro-ZAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Prunus (PROO-nus) (Info)
Species: spinosa (spy-NO-suh) (Info)




Water Requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade





Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From hardwood cuttings

From hardwood heel cuttings

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

By stooling or mound layering

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Browns Mills, New Jersey

Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 8, 2019, Wrnchbndr from Browns Mills, NJ wrote:

I was introduced to homemade sloe gin while serving in the military in the UK. It is a wonderful thing bearing little in common with the commercial product sold here in the US. I'm in New Jersey and have tried to cultivate this plant for quite a few years. Growing from seed has been a total failure. Small saplings were all eaten by deer another year. I finally had success by raising small plants indoors for a full year and putting them out in spring when they were about 18" tall. Its now 19 months later and they are over 6' tall and generally healthy. In spring earlier this year, they had a small number of flowers. No fruit this year but I have hopes for next year. The leaves will all drop in a few months and I plan on wrapping the plants lightly with single layer of burlap to prevent dama... read more


On Apr 3, 2011, DMersh from Perth,
United Kingdom (Zone 7b) wrote:

Similar to Hawthorn and often grows alongside it; the two trees have very similar flowers but blackthorn flowers about 6-7 weeks before hawthorn and has bluish black berries, hawthorn has red berries. The two can be hard to tell apart in winter when berries and leaves are gone.
Makes a very striking sight when in flower as most other trees are still bare, also because the flowers open before the leaves. Grows to about 15 feet, can reproduce by suckering as well as seeds spread by birds.


On Dec 16, 2009, Mandrak from Bihac,
Bosnia-Herzegovina wrote:

The fruit even now in December there are here in Bosnia (but the snow has fallen and can not pick them any more). I like to eat it fresh, and it is possible to make juice and jam from it. I think that is very healthy.


On Feb 21, 2003, mark1 wrote:

I am a forester based in the UK - some of our work includes the clearance of shrubs such as blackthorn - I have experienced skin infection from handling the thorns of the plant - eg when pricked by the thorns, the area can get extremely inflamed and be very painful for at least a couple of days. I have been advised by my pharmacy to use Magnesium Sulphate Paste to bring down the swelling. I am not sure if this problem is unique to me but would advise others to handle the plant with care.


On Sep 28, 2002, philomel from Castelnau RB Pyrenes,
France (Zone 8a) wrote:

This is a suckering shrub/small tree native to the UK and Northern Europe. It is much used as a hedging plant, forming an impenetrable thicket, further protected by the sharp spiny thorns.

There is much folklore attached to this plant, the wood of which is used to make the irish shillelagh. The fruits are called sloes and are traditionally used to make sloe gin.