Scientific Classifications explained
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UK Nature > Trees > Prunus spinosa
Scientific Name: Prunus spinosa
Common Name: Blackthorn
Prunus spinosa, more commonly known as Blackthorn, is a large deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 5 metres tall, with blackish bark and dense, stiff, spiny branches. The leaves are oval, 2–4.5 centimetres long and 1.2–2 centimetres broad, with a serrated margin.
The flowers are about 1.5 centimetres in diameter, with five creamy-white petals; they are produced shortly before the leaves in early spring (unlike Hawthorn, their common co-habitant of UK hedgerows, which produces its leaves before flowering), and are hermaphroditic and insect-pollinated.
The fruit, called a "sloe", is a drupe 10–12 millimetres 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. Blackthorn usually grows as a bush but can grow to become a tree to a height of 6 m.
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