Blackthorn - is technically a shrub but frequently grows to small tree height. It is native throughout Britain and is commonly planted in hedgerows and if like these left unchecked will grow prolifically
Blackthorn produces a high yield of blue-black fruits, known as sloes which can be used in jams or wine as well as flavouring gin which is very nice. The fruit is too bitter to eat on its own though, it is thought that the blackthorn is one of the parents to the domestic damson and other plums.
The flowers, bark, leaves and sloes can be used to treat a variety of ailments as they are aperients, astringent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, laxative and stomachic. By infusing the flowers it becomes an especially usefully treatment for diarrhoea, bladder and kidney disorders and other stomach problems. The sloe berries make a very bitter tonic it helps to stimulate the metabolism, clean the blood and can be used as a laxative and a diuretic. They also help with indigestion, skin conditions such as eczema, as well as herpes, allergies, colds, catarrh, neurosis, bladder and prostate problems. The sloe berry is rich in vitamin C and can be traced to the 17th and 18th Century as a brewed sloe tonic to treat ‘fluxes in the belly’.