blackthorn or sloe, low, spreading, thorny bush or small tree ( Prunus spinosa ) of the plum genus of the family Rosaceae (rose family), having black bark, white flowers, and deep blue fruits, usually rather acrid and not much larger than peas. Native to the Mediterranean area, the blackthorn is cultivated for hedges, its limbs are used in Ireland for canes and cudgels, and the juice of the berries is used in making brandy, sloe gin, and preserves and as a diluent of port. One of the hawthorns is sometimes called blackthorn. Blackthorn is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Rosaceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.