Prunus spinosa Linnaeus, 1753
Common names: Blackthorn, Sloe [En], Prunellier, Epinette, Epine noire [Fr], Sleedoorn [Nl], Schlehdorn, Schlehe, Heckendorn [De], Prugnolo selvatico [It], Endrino [Es], Προύμνη η ακανθώδης [Gr], Çakal eriği [Tu]
Puitvert, AUDE ● France
Description: Deciduous large shrub or small tree growing to 5 m tall, with blackish bark and dense, stiff, spiny branches. The leaves are oval, 2–4.5 cm long and 1.2–2 cm broad, with a serrated margin. The flowers are 1.5 cm diameter, with five creamy-white petals; they are produced shortly before the leaves in early spring, and are hermaphroditic and insect-pollinated. The fruit, called a "sloe", is a drupe 10–12 millimetres (0.39–0.47 in) in diameter, black with a purple-blue waxy bloom, ripening in autumn, and harvested — traditionally, at least in the UK, in October or November after the first frosts. Sloes are thin-fleshed, with a very strongly astringent flavour when fresh.
Biology: It blooms from March to May, depending the location.
Distribution: Native to Europe, western Asia, and locally in northwest Africa. It is also locally naturalised in New Zealand and eastern North America.
Uses: In Britain, so-called sloe gin is made from the fruit, though this is not a true gin, but an infusion of vodka, gin, or neutral spirits with the fruit and sugar to produce a liqueur. In Navarre, Spain, a popular liqueur called patxaran is made with sloes. In France a similar liqueur called épine ("spine") is made from the young shoots in spring. Wine made from fermented sloes is made in Britain, and in Germany and other central European countries. Sloes can also be made into jam and, used in fruit pies, and if preserved in vinegar are similar in taste to Japanese umeboshi. The juice of the berries dyes linen a reddish color that washes out to a durable pale blue.
The wood takes a fine polish and is used for tool handles and canes.
Wikipedia, Prunus spinosa
Rushforth K., 1999. Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins. ISBN 0-00-220013-9.