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Blackthorn - Prunus spinosa

Blackthorn - Prunus spinosa

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 Acidic, Sandy, Peaty Acidic, Sandy, Peaty
 Alkaline, Chalky, Calcareous Alkaline, Chalky, Calcareous
 Damp and Clays Damp and Clays
 Light Sand Light Sand
 Neutral Neutral
Autumn Interest Autumn Interest
Flower Interest Flower Interest
Growth Rate: Quick Growth Rate: Quick
Native Native
Use: Field and Farm Hedging Use: Field and Farm Hedging

Characteristics
Plant Protection
Planting & Care
Long Description 5
Images (5)
Questions (5)
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More familiar to many as the Sloe, from its large fruits ripening in late autumn, Blackthorn is an important native deciduous shrub often seen growing wild in the countryside. A densely spiny suckering shrub, it makes one of the best stock-proof hedges and forms an essential part of wildlife hedges. Its snowy white blossom appears in very early spring before the leaves and is followed in late autumn by the purplish-black fruits.

Site and soil

Very tough and tolerant of most soils and situations, including wet, exposed sites.

Height and spread

Below are the approximate stages of growth, assuming sited in suitable conditions for this species;

After 10 years: 5m x 1.5m
After 20 years: 5m x 1.5m

Leaf and bark

Oval leaves appear after the blossom in late March. The bark is very smooth and black.

Flower, seed and fruit

The small white 5-petalled flowers appear in great profusion in early March, smothering the whole plant. They are followed by small, hard plum-like fruits, which ripen to purplish-black in late autumn. The flesh is green and very bitter, and surrounds the seed.

Uses

Stock and people-proof hedges, mixed wildlife hedges, woodland, cover for game birds. Blackthorn’s suckering habit ensures that there are never gaps at the base of the hedge. The fruits are used to make sloe gin, and the branches to make walking-sticks, or shillelaghs.

Wildlife

The pollen is a good food source for early insects, and the larvae of a variety of moths and butterflies, including the Emperor Moth, feed on the leaves. The fruits are eaten by birds over winter.

The main reasons for buying protection is to protect the plants against:

  • Pests
  • Spraying
  • Strimming

Pests

When it comes to deciding what protection to choose the golen rule of thumb is to choose the product dependent on which pest you are protecting against. The below will help you in deciding what height of protection you will need.

Vole Rabbit Hare Roe Deer/Muntjac Fallow Deer
Vole, Mice
20cm
Rabbit
60cm
Hare
75cm
Roe Deer/Muntjac
1.20m
Fallow Deer
1.50m

 Download our full protection range as a printable PDF document.

Protection Options

Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Vole
Vole, Mice
20cm
Vole Guard
20cm
None required
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Sorted by price; lowest to highest
Rabbit
Rabbit
60cm
Spiral Guard
60cm x 38mm, 60cm x 50mm
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs or 14-16lbs
Tubex Easywrap
60cm x 50-65mm
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs or 14-16lbs
Mesh Guard with Spray Shield
60cm x 130mm
2 x Bamboo Canes
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs or 14-16lbs
Tubex Fruitwrap
60cm x 65-80mm
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs or 14-16lbs
Tubex Ecostart
60cm x 57-73cm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Tree Shelter
60cm x 73-105mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Shelterguard Mesh Tube
60cm x 80-110mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube
60cm x 80-110mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Shrub Shelter
60cm x 130-160mm, 60cm x 144-200mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Shrub Shelterguard Mesh Tube
60cm x 130-160mm, 60cm x 170-200mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube for Shrubs
60cm x 130-160mm, 60cm x 170-200mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Sorted by price; lowest to highest
Hare
Hare
75cm
Tubex Easywrap
75cm x 50-65mm
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs, 14-16lbs or 1.20m x 20-22lbs
Spiral Guard
75cm x 50mm
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs, 14-16lbs or 1.20m x 20-22lbs
Tubex Fruitwrap
75cm x 65-80mm
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs, 14-16lbs or 1.20m x 20-22lbs
Tubex Ecostart
75cm x 57-73mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Tree Shelter
75cm x 73-105mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Combitube
75cm x 73-105mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Shelterguard Mesh Tube
90cm x 80-110mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube
75cm x 80-110mm, 90cm x 80-110mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Shrub Shelter
75cm x 130-160mm, 75cm x 144-200mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Sorted by price; lowest to highest
Roe Deer/Muntjac
Roe Deer/Muntjac
1.20m
Tubex Tree Shelter*
1.20m x 73-105mm, 1.20m x 80-120mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.20m x 32mm, 1.35m x 32mm
Tubex Combitube*
1.20m x 73-105mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.20m x 32mm, 1.35m x 32mm
Tubex Shelterguard Mesh Tube*
1.20m x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.20m x 32mm, 1.35m x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube*
1.20m x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.20m x 32mm, 1.35m x 32mm
Galvanised Mesh Tree Guard*
1.20m x 300mm
*Not recommended for this species
Machine Rounded Tree Stake
1.20m x 50mm, 1.50m x 50mm
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Sorted by price; lowest to highest
Fallow DeerFallow Deer
1.50m
Tubex Tree Shelter*
1.50m x 80-120mm, 1.80m x 80-120mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.50m x 32mm, 1.80m x 32mm
Tubex Combitube*
1.50m x 80-120mm, 1.80m x 80-120mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.50m x 32mm, 1.80m x 32mm
Tubex Shelterguard Mesh Tube*
1.50m x 80-110mm, 1.80m x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.50m x 32mm, 1.80m x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube*
1.50m x 80-110mm, 1.80m x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.50m x 32mm, 1.80m x 32mm
Galvanised Mesh Tree Guard*
1.80m x 300mm, 1.80m x 600mm
*Not recommended for this species
Machine Rounded Tree Stake
1.80m x 60mm

Spraying

Tubex tree shelters offer the benefit of not only protecting against animal damage, they also ensure that herbicides do not come into contact with the plants during spraying.

The main reason for spraying is weed control, however, there are other options available to suppress weeds. Our accessories section includes weed control matting, fertilisers & wildflower seed.

Strimming

Young plants should be protected from damage caused when strimming. To protect plants solely for strimming, our strimmer guards are the ideal product.

Planting

More commonly used as part of a mixed species within a native hawthorn hedge.

New hedgerows should be planted in two staggered rows 30cm apart.

We recommend a minimum of 5 plants per metre.

Follow this link to our 'Planting Advice' page for more detailed information on how to plant your plants.

Rootgrow

We would often advise that you consider using 'Rootgrow' for your bare root plants. Rootgrow simply speeds up an existing natural process. The fungi contained in Rootgrow will begin to colonise the plant or tree roots, extending the root system into the surrounding soil via an extensive network of fungal filaments. 

The benefit of Rootgrowis that it enhances a plants root system so a newly planted plant:

  • Finds more food, finds more water.

  • Needs less fertiliser.

  • Establishes quicker and reduces failure rates (which can be improved even further when used in conjunction with Broadleaf P4)

  • Has increased tolerance to drought and difficult soil conditions

We also have a handy Welfare Guide that includes information on how to check your plants on arrival, how to plant them and also how to look after them. This is sent out with each delivery of bare root plants, but it can be downloaded from our advice pages.

Aftercare

Blackthorn hedges should be pruned in June-July.

Readily available advice

For additional information on planting and maintaining your plants, please see our advice pages.

We provide extensive articles, tips, and even tutorial videos, ideal for beginners and those with previous planting experience.

 

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Are the Prunus spinosa - Cell Grown propagated by seeds or by cuttings?

Good morning,

I can confirm these are grown from seed.

Please do not hesitate to contact us again with any further questions.

Regards,

The Trees and Hedging Team.

Hi, I am considering planting blackthorn and hawthorn hedging around my horses paddock. Could you confirm whether blackthorn is poisonous to horses? I think that hawthorn is ok as my horses seem to nibble the early foliage at this time of the year. As it is May, I have missed the planting season. I am wanting quite a few, I would say approximately 200 - 400 hundred, could you give me any advice and also cost on these hedges please. Many thanks

Thank you for your question. We can confirm that either blackthorn or hawthorn is a horse-friendly plant and you can check for more details on our blog piece - Hedging for horses - if you follow the link

We would recommend planting 5 to the metre and if you look at each of the respective product pages these plants are currently available as a Cell Grown, but it is more expensive than the bare root, which will not be ready for despatch again now until November 2016. The Cell Grown does give you that all year round option though and the success rates are likely to be higher due to the fact the root system is much less disturbed than that of a bare root plant, hence the price difference

Hope that helps you, regards the Trees and Hedging Team

I would like to create a 'berry' shrubbery for birds in my garden. There is no space for a classical hedge but I was thinking of putting in a single hawthorne in an island bed and let it grow into a tree and underplant it with blackthorn. Would this work or should I opt for a field rose instead.Thank you.

We suggest that you do not under plant with Blackthorn as it can be quite invasive and send out suckers into your garden so it is best left within a hedge.

Guelder Rose would be a better option to Field Rose, or you could consider Snowberry, Spindleberry and Cotoneaster as well as your Hawthorn.

We do not currently sell these plants in singles, you can buy them from us as small saplings in bundles of 10, but plant up the bundle and then trim as they grow

Hope this helps

Many thanks The Trees and Hedging Team

I am considering mixing hawthorn and blackthorn as a field hedge. Will this create problems? Would I be able to cut them back at the same time of year?

Yes you can mix the two hedgerow plants. We often do for clients.. in the hedgerow packs we sell the two together usually with a greater percentage of Hawthorn - follow this link http://www.treesandhedging.co.uk/hawthorn-mixed-pack-with-protection/p499

If it is mixed we would advise pruning in the autumn, obviously after you have picked any sloes from the blackthorn if you intend to

We hope this helps you, many thanks, the Trees and Hedging Team

Are there any problems with this being close to a property? Root damage for instance.

Whilst a mature Blackthorn hedge can tend to sucker and send out new shoots from the ground within close proximity to the hedge, which may need managing, we are of the opinion that the roots would not cause any problems to the foundations of a property.

This would generally be more of a concern with Poplars and similar species having a vigorous growth habit.

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