With a shrub height of between 1 and 4 m, about 3 to 14 feet, and can take 30 to 50 years before it is fully grown. Blackthorn is a revered plant for blessings, healing, drinks, liquers and jellys, but also inspires deep caution too.
Its typical wild habitats include hedgerows, woodlands, cliff slopes and screes. Almost any soil is suitable and Blackthorn will survive well on on incredibly poor soil. One condition that it cannot survive on is chalk lands.
Blackthorn is popular, and traditionally, mixed with Hawthorn to create a mixed hedgerow. As Hawthorn's other name is Whitethorn, the hedges are a balanced mix of Blackthorn and Whitethorn.
Does not like heavy shade but Blackthorn will protect smaller plants growing underneath. Blackthorn loves air around it and can withstand very strong winds. It doesn't mind wet soil either so no worries if land becomes waterlogged.
Buds appear mid winter but do not expand and break open into leaves until well after the blossoming and pollinating. Leaves open usually during April, especially late April.
Beautiful white blossom appear well before the buds of leaves open. The single white flowers can be seen in hedgerows from as early as late February and often abundant through March. For some reason, when Blackthorn blossom does come out we seem to enter into a few cloudy, often wet, even late snow, days hence the term "blackthorn winter" when nice spring weather suddenly turns cold and dull again.
Blackthorn flowers are pollinated by a large range of insects. Bumble bees visit, of course, but perhaps more abundant on Blackthorn are tortoiseshell butterflies who achieve considerable pollinating.
Sends up many suckers which can be pulled to create more plants, help you create a denser hedge or thicket, or can be controlled with a sickle or mower.
Blossoms form into round blue-black berries known as sloes. These are quite bitter yet very useful. Sloe gin is quite famous and so it the bitter damson like sloe jelly. Some people make sloe wine as an alternative to port.
Also worth knowing ...
Blackthorn leaves provide valuable food for larvae and caterpillars of some species of butterflies and many species of moths who prefer Blackthorn leaves to chomping on your veggie garden.
I read somewhere that Blackthorn supports around 153 species of wildlife. It is also very valuable to birds as a nesting site. Blackbirds, thrush, finches, and wood pigeons love Blackthorn to hide and nest in.
for the healing and nourishment qualities of Blackthorn, please click here