Botanical description

Prunus spinosa is a 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[16]

Uses

Toxic parts

Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

Edible uses

Fruit

Jam, Jelly, Syrup

A delicious, if sometimes astringent, jam, jelly or syrup can be made from Sloe berries.

Flowers

Seed

Fresh, Cooked

Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter - see the notes above on toxicity.

Leaves

Tea

Material uses

Fruit

Leaves

Dye

Bark

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The flowers, bark, leaves and fruits are aperient, astringent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, laxative and stomachic[3][17][18]. An infusion of the flowers is used in the treatment of diarrhoea (especially for children), bladder and kidney disorders, stomach weakness et[17]. Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being[19].

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Secondary canopy or Shrub

Ecological Functions

Hedge

The sloe is very resistant to maritime exposure and also suckers freely. It can be used as a hedge in exposed maritime positions. The hedge is stock-proof if it is well maintained[14][20], though it is rather bare in the winter and, unless the hedge is rather wide, it is not a very good shelter at this time.

Pioneer

Because of its suckering habit, the plant is a natural pioneer species, invading cultivated fields and creating conditions conducive to the regeneration of woodland.

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Layering in spring. Division of suckers during the dormant season. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions.

Seed

Seed - requires 2 - 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[9]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible[9]. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate[21]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year.

Rooted cuttings

Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame[4][9]. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame.


Cultivation

Requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil[4]. Succeeds in all soils except very acid peats[22]. Succeeds in light shade but fruits better in a sunny position[4][9]. Thrives in a loamy soil, doing well on limestone[4]. Prefers some chalk in the soil but apt to become chlorotic if too much is present[14]. Thrives on chalk according to another report[23]. Plants are very resistant to maritime exposure[22].

An important food plant for the caterpillars of several species of butterfly[24], especially the larvae of the brown and black hairstreak butterflies[22]. A good bee plant. Plants are shallow-rooted and of a suckering habit, they can form dense impenetrable thickets which are ideal for nesting birds, especially nightingales[22]. Flowers are often damaged by late frosts[22]. Plants regenerate quickly after cutting or after fast moving forest fires, producing suckers from below ground level[22].

This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[25][9].

Crops

The fruit is similar to a small damson or plum, suitable for preserves, but rather tart and astringent for eating, unless it is picked after the first few days of autumn frost. Some have reported that this effect can be reproduced by freezing harvested sloes[26], although it is understood that it is the result of the plant withdrawing tannins from the sloes in freezing weather.[10]

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Prunus spinosa. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Prunus spinosa.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Prunus spinosa
Genus
Prunus
Family
Rosaceae
Imported References
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
4
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
light shade
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    Root Zone Tendancy
    Life
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    3 x 1 metres
    Fertility
    Pollinators
    Flower Colour
    white
    Flower Type

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    "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.


    "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki."image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.




    References

    1. ? 1.01.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (32202/01/01)
    2. ? 2.02.1 Mabey. R. Food for Free. Collins ISBN 0-00-219060-5 (32202/01/01)
    3. ? 3.03.13.23.33.43.53.63.73.8 Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (32202/01/01)
    4. ? 4.04.14.24.34.44.54.6 Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (32202/01/01)
    5. ? 5.05.1 Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P. Britain's Wild Larder. David and Charles ISBN 0-7153-7971-2 ()
    6. ? 6.06.16.26.3 Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-33545-3 (32202/01/01)
    7. ? 7.07.1 Harrison. S. Wallis. M. Masefield. G. The Oxford Book of Food Plants. Oxford University Press (32202/01/01)
    8. ? 8.08.18.28.38.48.5 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (32202/01/01)
    9. ? 9.09.19.29.39.49.59.69.7 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (32202/01/01)
    10. ? 10.010.110.2 Wikipedia www.wikipedia.org Wikipedia (2012/08/07)
    11. ? 11.011.111.211.3 Freethy. R. From Agar to Zenery. The Crowood Press ISBN 0-946284-51-2 (32202/01/01)
    12. ? 12.012.1 Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain. ()
    13. ? 13.013.113.2 Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants. MacMillan Publishing Co. New York. ISBN 0-02-544950-8 (32202/01/01)
    14. ? 14.014.114.214.3 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (32202/01/01)
    15. ? 15.015.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (32202/01/01)
    16. ? Collins Edition Collins Tree Guide Collins ()
    17. ? 17.017.117.2 Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (32202/01/01)
    18. ? 18.018.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (32202/01/01)
    19. ? 19.019.1 Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (32202/01/01)
    20. ? 20.020.1 Shepherd. F.W. Hedges and Screens. Royal Horticultural Society. ISBN 0900629649 (32202/01/01)
    21. ? Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press ISBN 0942375009 (32202/01/01)
    22. ? 22.022.122.222.322.422.5 Beckett. G. and K. Planting Native Trees and Shrubs. Jarrold (32202/01/01)
    23. ? Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos. Murray ISBN 0-7195-5043-2 (32202/01/01)
    24. ? Carter D. Butterflies and Moths in Britain and Europe. Pan ISBN 0-330-26642-x (32202/01/01)
    25. ? RHS. The Garden. Volume 112. Royal Horticultural Society (32202/01/01)
    26. ? [[1]] Celtic Rambler (2012/08/07)
    27. ? Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (32202/01/01)



    "image:Illustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    Facts about "Prunus spinosa"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteNo +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupNo +
    Belongs to familyRosaceae +
    Belongs to genusPrunus +
    Can be grown from cutting typeSoft wood + and Semi-ripe +
    Functions asHedge + and Pioneer +
    Has common nameSloe +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partFruit +, Flowers +, Seeds + and Leaves +
    Has edible useFresh +, Cooked +, Sugared +, Tea +, Pickled +, Drink +, Alcohol +, Jam +, Jelly + and Syrup +
    Has environmental toleranceMaritime exposure + and High wind +
    Has fertility typeSelf fertile + and Insects +
    Has flowers of colourwhite +
    Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
    Has growth rateModerate +
    Has hardiness zone4 +
    Has imageIllustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg +
    Has lifecycle typePerennial +
    Has material partFruit +, Leaves +, Bark + and Wood +
    Has material useCosmetic +, Dye +, Tannin +, Ink +, Walking Sticks +, Turnery +, Carpentry + and Fuel +
    Has mature height3 +
    Has mature width1 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAperient +, Astringent +, Depurative +, Diaphoretic +, Diuretic +, Febrifuge +, Laxative + and Stomachic +
    Has primary imageIllustration Prunus spinosa1.jpg +
    Has root zoneShallow +
    Has search nameprunus spinosa + and x +
    Has seed requiring scarificationNo +
    Has seed requiring stratificationNo +
    Has shade toleranceLight shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral +, Alkaline + and Very alkaline +
    Has soil teclayture preferenceClay +
    Has soil teloamyture preferenceLoamy +
    Has soil tesandyture preferenceSandy +
    Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomy namePrunus spinosa +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Inhabits ecosystem nicheSecondary canopy + and Shrub +
    Is deciduous or evergreenDeciduous +
    Is grown fromSeeds +, Cutting + and Layering +
    Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    Tolerates air pollutionNo +
    Tolerates maritime exposureYes +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Tolerates windYes +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMetres +