Hedgerow lace and hedgerow elegance as it is embroidered with blackthorn white petal blossoms hides a dark, dark secret. Despite being first in line to adorn the earth with the promise of Spring, sometimes even as early as the end of January and beginning of February, its wood was prized as a weapon in mediaeval times. A branch would be quickly hacked off and stripped of the lower thorns to make a comfortable handle whilst the top part would be left as knobbly as possible so when used, it would crack and tear at flesh and bone causing maximum damage. This early weapon was called a cudgel. Since those times the wood of the blackthorn or sloe as it is often called in Autumn has been used for making handsome walking sticks. Weathered branches that have been cleaned of their thorns make excellent garden canes for peas and dwarf beans.
Stick of the blackthorn or sloe made into a cudgel for attacking or defending persons or property
Blackthorn blossom – Autumn sloe late afternoon facing west
Close up of blackthorn blossom or sloe blossom
Little extra note: as you can see by the flowers of the blackthorn, it is related to the rose family. It has the Latin name of Prunus spinosa. Blackthorn is often used for hedging as it forms thick impenetrable walls to keep farm stock safely in the fields. The Chaffinch often nest in its branches which reach around six metres tall and it homes Hairstreak butterflies which are now quite rare.