Sloe-Tree, Black-Thorn, Or Scrogos, Prunus spinosa, L. an indigenous shrub, growing wild ges, and woods; flowering; in the months of March and April. It gener s the height o from 10 to 12 feet, and spread branches from the root; pr small, round, black berries in autumn, which possess a very austere taste, till mellowed by frost.
Being of very quick and bushy growth, the sloe-tree ill adapted for hedges and other though it is not calculated for situns where spreading roots might obstruct the growth of vegetables planted in its vicinity. - The wood is hard and on h account it is usefully converted into walking-sticks, teeth for rakes, and turnery-ware. - Dr. heriNG observes that, from the edicts which follow the punctures made by the thorns of this tree, he has reason to believe, they contain some poisonous matter ; especially if such wounds be inflicted in autumn. - The young and tender leaves, when dried, afford, in his opinion, the best substitute for the foreign teas. - If bruised, and infused in currant or raisin-wine, sloes impart a beautiful red colour, and a pleasant rough, subacid taste, resembling that of Port-wine; a fact too well known to the dealers in that favourite and ex-ive liquor. - Characters impressed on linen, or woollen cloth, with the juice of the fruit, are said to be permanent. On adding green vitriol to this liquid, the shade is not changed ; but, if it be employed for writing on paper, or dyeing linen, and af-d to the air, an inble Hack colour will be the result, and which is superior to that obtained from the best galls. - The dried berries of the black-thorn dye- linen of a red hue, which, on repeated washing, changes to a durable light blue. - The bark boiled in ley, also yields a red tinge; and, in order to facilitate the decor of this shrub, it ought to be effected in the spring : - a decoction of the root, on adding a solution of bismuth, communicates a cinnamon shade to wool. - The blackish bark is farther, useful for preserving cheese from corruption ; a fact, attested by BechstEin : the same rind, together with the unripe berries, may be advantageously used in tanning.
In a medicinal respect, a hand ful of the flowers of the sloe-tree, either infused in water, or boiled in milk, and strained, affords a draught which operates as a safe and gentle purgative. - According to Dr. Withering, the bark, when reduced to powder, and administered in doses of two drams each, has cured some species of the ague. - An inspissated extract of the same substance forms an excellent astringent, which is frequently employed on the Continent, as a substitute for the more expensive, but less efficacious Indian drugs of this description : and it is highly probable, that such preparation might, in many cases, be employed with safety, instead of the Peruvian bark, which is seldom obtained in a genuine state from the shops. - The leaves of the sloe-tree are eaten by horses, sheep, and goats : the bark is relished by hares, deer, and other wild quadrupeds.