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After reading @Aravona's question on the best time to pick sloe berries, I was wondering where I should actually go to find sloe bushes. I think I can recognise them from pictures online, but are there locations that these bushes are most likely to grow?

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Yes loads! They're currently a very popular hedge bush. You'll likely find them along all new housing developments. Especially speaking for in the South of the UK, my development is only 4 years old and we have them there - much to my pleasure! My old development is now around 15-20 years old and has them as well. It's also quite common to find it in towns and cities in public spaces like parks. They're also common along scrub land, as they're quite hardy, where they grow naturally. They're a native species to the UK.

Many farmers use them in hedgerows as well, and you can find them along many - if not most - footpaths. I'm not 100% sure why farmers pick them but they are a thorny bush that is quite bulky and therefore not only builds a good hedge but helps endorse the farmers requirements to maintain a hedgerow that is a good, safe habitat for animals (hedge rows make good wildlife corridors).

The bush itself, Prunus spinosa, is also one you can purchase and plant in your own garden if you do not want to go out foraging, but that does cut some of the fun! It has a common name of Blackthorn.

For recognizing them: The berries themselves are quite easy to mix up with juniper but the leaf shape distinguishes them, which is oval shaped and lighter green than those of the juniper bush, but a point to make is also the bushes are not small. They're very tall when left alone - on an untrimmed hedgerow they're up to 5 meters. The berry should also have a coating, that makes them seem paler, that should wipe off with the thumb.

As a note - you may find the bush but not the berries if you go foraging in a popular spot!

I'll add a photo of some near my house when I next go out in daylight...

  • In the hedgerows they're there because thorny bushes made effective hedging when hedges had a practical purpose, and along with hawthorn they can handle the process of laying hedges). They can survive modern flail cutting so if the hedge survives the blackthorns should. – Chris H Nov 26 '15 at 16:58
  • @ChrisH that's really awesome to know thanks! – Aravona Nov 26 '15 at 17:17
  • Does it need full sun? I looked it up, but did not find out how much sun it needs. – ab2 Nov 26 '15 at 21:47
  • @ab2 probably due to hedgerow it'll be partial shade to full sun. RHS says exposed or sheltered. rhs.org.uk/plants/details?plantid=1555 – Aravona Nov 26 '15 at 21:51

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