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Plant Profile: Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)

prunus_spinosa-bushBlackthorn is a suckering deciduous shrub or small tree native to Europe, western Asian, and areas of northwest Africa where it grows in hedgerows, thickets, scrubland, and woodland edges. It is a member of the rose family (Rosaceae) and in the same genus as cherry, almond, and plum. The dense branches have dark bark and spines about three inches long. The oval leaves have serrated margins and are ¾ to 1 ¾ inches long by ½ to ¾ inches wide. The creamy white flowers with five petals appear slightly before the leaves in early spring and are about ½ inch across. They are followed in the fall by half inch wide blue black fruits enhanced with a whitish bloom that are called sloe and used to flavor alcoholic beverages. The plants are important to wildlife by providing food and cover for birds and insects.

prunus_spinosa-flType: Deciduous, suckering shrub or small tree

Outstanding Feature: White flowers, black berries

Form: Rounded mound

Growth Rate: Medium

Bloom: Cfeamy white five petaled flowers in early spring

Size: 20’ H x 20’ W

Light: Full sun to partial shade

prunus_spinosa-frSoil: Average, moist, well-drained

Care: Low maintenance

Hardiness: Zones 5-9

Pests and Diseases: Susceptible to aphids, caterpillars, silver leaf, blossom wilt

Propagation: Seed, semi-ripe cuttings, suckers (easiest)

Outstanding Selections:
‘Plena’ (pure white double flowers)
‘Purpurea’ (6 ½’ tall, purple leaves, white flowers)