Prunus spinosa

Plant of the month: April

Prunus spinosa is a member of the Rosaceae family and can be found all around the Gardens.

The Blackthorn or Sloe is a dense, bushy deciduous shrub. It is also very spiny (spinosa means spiny) making it a very effective hedge which can be seen in gardens all around the country. It is one of the first cherries to flower and its stems are crowded with small white flowers from March to April. In the autumn the small blue fruits which are covered with a white bloom turn shiny black as they age.

Sloes can be used for wine making and for sloe gin. To make sloe gin the sloes should be picked in late September or October, prick them with a skewer, fill half a bottle with them, add a few spoonful’s of sugar and cover the lot with gin. The purple almond flavoured liqueur is ready to drink by Christmas, but it improves with age, if you can leave it alone!