Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Sloe

Our walk this morning, revealed the very welcome sight of the Blackthorn trees beginning to show their delightful blossom.
Last year, we were well in to March before we started to see these harbingers of spring - and even then, the few flowers which appeared, were quickly nipped off by late frosts and snow. What a difference a year makes!  This year, despite the dreadful, wet winter we have had, everything seems to be bursting into spring much earlier and the Blackthorn is among the best and most colourful of them.
Blackthorn or Sloe (Prunus spinosa) is a native plant to the UK and can be found almost anywhere in the country.  Frequently planted to form hedging to keep livestock at bay, the tangled and rather thorny branches are perfect for this task.
Later in the year, the Blackthorn will produce lots of small, purple fruits - actually called drupes - which we know as Sloes.  Resembling a tiny plum, they are rather bitter to eat fresh, but picked, cut and mixed with gin, they make a traditional - and rather nice - drink, perfect for seeing off the worst of the winter weather!  But for now, lets just enjoy the beautiful blossom.
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