Sloe (A. S. sla), a wild plum, prunus spino-sa) native in Europe and Russian and central Asia, and sparingly naturalized in the New England and some others of the older states. It is a shrub or low tree, with its smaller branches ending in sharp thorns, which, with the blackish color of the bark, give it the name of blackthorn by which it is frequently called in England; the leaves are ovate or oblong; the small, white flowers are succeeded by a small, globular, black fruit, with a fine bloom; stone turgid; pulp greenish and astringent.
As stated under Plum, this is thought to be the original of all the cultivated European varieties of that fruit. The sloe is sometimes used as a hedge plant in Europe, and is planted around trees in parks to protect them while young from injury by animals; it is sometimes seen in this country in collections of shrubs, its chief merit as an ornament being its early flowering. The wood is hard, heavy, and dark-colored, takes a fine polish, and is used for handles to tools, flails, teeth to rakes, and the like; upright shoots make favorite walking-sticks. The leaves when dried are regarded as more like tea than any other substitute; they were at one time largely collected for the adulteration of tea in England, but this is now forbidden under a heavy penalty. The fruit when mellowed by frost is eaten in some parts of Europe, and is made into a conserve; its expressed juice is used in Germany to mark clothing, it being nearly indelible, and in England it forms the basis of "British port".
Sloe or Blackthorn (Prunus communis).