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sloe/bullace/damison

First time posting here so hopefully I do this correctly.
I'm looking for help identifying some fruits I found while out walking in my local park. There are two trees/large bushes that have fruit that look very similar but I cannot tell if these two are the same, and if so, what are they? Everywhere I've read says sloe bushes have tons of thorns, however with these I could only spot maybe 2 or 3 definitive thorns which leads me to believe they may not be sloes. The bark itself looks very dark on both plants however, and both of the fruit have pits like those of stone fruit. I'm hoping to infuse them with gin, so I want to make sure I've found the correct fruit. Thanks in advance for the help! 

Plant/fruit #1
https://i.imgur.com/FngQjww.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/ByMViAa.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/Q3PRBtn.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/gAzhzVT.jpg

Plant/fruit #2
https://i.imgur.com/tNwcHCG.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/VWWoyEk.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/BhBIsm2.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/L4uzltC.jpg
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Posts

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,836
    edited August 2021
    Those look much like a sloe/damson hybrid which as children in rural Suffolk we called Blackjacks.  Knowledgeable folk can be certain if they see the blossom. 
    They’re fine for making damson/sloe gin … I would pick and freeze them for a few days first to replicate the old practice of not picking until after the first frost. 

    And welcome to the forum 😊 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.





  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,754
    Hi @quinn.ktgwxBKP4H - what size are the fruits? Sloes are around the size of a large blueberry.
    The younger foliage on blackthorn is often quite thornless, and it also varies quite a bit, and it gets heftier as the stems mature. I can account for that, as I have some blackthorn hedging. A tree/shrub on it's own will also look different from hedging which is regularly trimmed.
    I don't think damsons have thorns at all, but I'm not sure about that. 

    I'll go and take a photo, and you can see if the comparison is good. It certainly looks like blackthorn to me though.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....



    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,754


    This bit of new foliage is just a foot or so below those berries [above]


    Bit of foliage from a few feet away


    Hope that helps a bit  :)

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....



    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • @Fairygirl Thanks for the pictures! I was only just able to go back out and collect some to show for size. I picked some from various bushes around the area. They all look pretty similar but some are noticeably smaller and slightly more oval where the others are a bit larger and more round. 


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,836
    edited August 2021
    Can you slice one in half  across it's equator so we can see the stone inside please?

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.





  • @Dovefromabove
    I don't think they are quite ripe yet, they were hard to separate from the pit but I tried to keep them in tact.


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,836
    Yes those look like sloes ... they never separate from the stone ... taste one and if your face screws up they're sloes.   :)

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.





  • Whoo. Ok yes, these are quite tart! haha
    How do you tell when they're ready to be picked?

    Thanks for your help! 
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,836
    edited August 2021
    Thats exactly what sloes are like ... they don't get any sweeter than that.  You have to pick them before the birds get them ... traditionally you wait until after the first frost but in practice that's too late 'cos the birds will have had them.  I'd pick them now and freeze them for a few days or so to give them the equivalent of a good frost.  Then get your gin and sugar ready ........... 

    I've just noticed they're in a park ... if you've seen them so will half the population of the neighbourhood ... get out there and pick them asap!   

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.





  • EmerionEmerion Posts: 576
    If they’re properly black, they are probably ready. They also get a pretty, blueish bloom on them later on. Not much use now, but go back in April. If the bushes are covered in white blossom on bare branches, then they are blackthorn, and you can plan to go back for your sloes in the autumn. In May you might see hawthorn with white blossom on it, but the leaves will have come out first. Blackthorn stands out a mile in country hedgerows in April, maybe less so in town, where there could be other early blossoming shrubs.  
    Carmarthenshire (mild, wet, windy). Loam over shale, very slightly sloping, so free draining. Mildly acidic or neutral.


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