Blackthorn Tree Diseases and Key Facts

A close up image of green leaves and sloe fruits on a blackthorn sloe tree.

Commonly known as blackthorn sloe, the scientific name for this tree is Prunus spinosa. Native to the UK, this tree is known for producing small, white flowers which when pollinated turn into fruits, measuring around 1cm across. However, despite its beautiful appearance, this tree can be threatened by fungal diseases which can affect the blossom and fruit of this tree.

Sloe Fruits

Whilst the tree is often simply referred to as blackthorn, it is the fruits of the tree that are, in fact, named sloe. It is easy to see why some people may mistake sloe fruits for berries, however, the two are actually different.

When are Sloe Fruits in Season?

Sloe fruits are usually ripe for picking around September to November, however, weather dependent, they may sometimes be ready for picking as early as August.

Are Sloe Fruits Poisonous?

Sloe fruits are not poisonous to eat, but they are very tart and astringent in taste when eaten raw. Sloe fruits are often used to make sloe gin, but may also be used to make whiskey or jam.

Blackthorn Sloe Tree Diseases

Silver leaf is a fungal tree disease that affects the wood and leaves of various trees, including the blackthorn sloe. Often caused by Chondrostereum purpureum, it affects wounds of the tree that may have been caused by pruning.

Once the fungal disease has affected the tree, it will cause silvering of the leaf, eventually affecting the branch, causing it to die.

Symptoms of Silver Leaf Fungal Tree Disease

  • Leaves develop a silvery sheen
  • Irregular dark staining may be seen in the centre of a branch that has been cut across
  • Bracket shaped fungi may appear on older, dead branches

Blackthorn Tree Mythology and Fun Facts

The wood of blackthorn trees has been used to make walking and riding sticks and was the traditional wood for Irish shillelaghs.

Interestingly, the wood of the blackthorn tree was long associated with witches and it is said that this wood was used to make their wands and staffs.

Blackthorn Tree Surgery – Treesaw

During its early years, the blackthorn sloe will need careful maintenance in order to keeps its shape. As the tree matures, you will need to keep an eye out for signs of disease to ensure these are removed in a timely fashion.

As the name suggests, blackthorn trees have sharp thorns which can make them difficult to prune. If you have a blackthorn tree that needs pruning or you are concerned your tree has been affected by a fungal disease, please call us today on 0113 239 1271. Alternatively, please send your enquiry through to our online contact form.