Not So Sloe

Blackthorn Blossom
Blackthorn Blossom

There are certain issues that crop up year in and year out. At this time of year they come with increased frequency. Take trees, for example. About now, trees start to blossom – and very pretty they are too – but if you are interested in the name of the tree whose blossom you are admiring – enough to want to take a photo of it, then you would welcome a few clues to guide you.

The easiest way to identify a tree is by the size and shape of its leaves. Trees that flower before their leaves appear, are just being deliberately obstructive – especially if they only produce white flowers. Still, there are precedents that you can rely on. Usually the first of our native trees to produce its white flowers is the wild plum (or Cherry Plum) next should be the Blackthorn, then the Wild Cherry and lastly the Hawthorn.

During the time that we have spent prowling the byways of out locality we have yet to find any of the wild plums – they just don’t appear to care for the area. This means that our first white flowers should be Blackthorn.

For several of the past autumns we have collected wild cherries (to cover with brandy), and so we know where the wild cherry trees are. So, the fact that they have chosen to come into flower at the same time as several other trees (which we know are not wild cherry) must be regarded as a deliberate attempt to muddy the waters.

Google is inclined to agree with us that our picture is of Blackthorn – if we can remember which tree we photographed by the autumn – we will certainly be back to look for sloes. I’m not that fond of gin, but in the name of Science, you know. . .

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