Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Blackthorn Winter

Mentioned in my April Folklore page, the few warm days that bring Blackthorn into flower are often followed by colder days and it was certainly  chilly here in the East of England for several days last week and frosts forecast again this week too.

 Blackthorn is everywhere around the hedges and lanes of Suffolk.



 In the illustration from Cecily Mary Barker's Flower Fairy book the Blackthorn looks lovely


but the thorns are vicious and Blackthorn  has a history of evil in folklore. Blackthorn walking sticks were carried by witches and it was thought that a pregnant woman would have a miscarriage if they touched a blackthorn. Blackthorn in flower was never taken into the house and I know from experience that a scratch from a Blackthorn can often turn very nasty. 
The wood is hard and tough and as well as walking sticks it was used for the teeth of hay-rakes and is traditionally the wood used for the Irish shillelagh.
Christian stories say that the tree made the Crown of Thorns.

 And then of course there is the fruit that appears in autumn, so tart it turns your mouth inside out! People have been making sloe gin with the little blue/black fruit for years and nowadays you can make it if you wish and have money to spare without even picking a single sloe!

The Blackthorn in the photos at the top of the page are all here at home but I've never seen any sloes on them at all.


Back Tomorrow
Sue


23 comments:

  1. I love that short time when the blackthorn is in flower - it looks like drifts of snow along the sides of the roads.
    xx

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  2. Good grief! Why would anybody pay £33 for a "sloe gin kit"? The nation is going mad. I blame B*****

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  3. The blackthorn is spectacular this year. Who needs to see that ornamental cherry when we have our native blackthorn {and gorse!}

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  4. Blackthorn is so pretty and such a cute fairy for such a prickly plant - I think it can be very invase too as we looked at it for planting around the edges of our wood and decided against it in the end.

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  5. The farm we have our Knit and Natter is called Blacktorn Farm and it looks beautiful at the moment.

    Hazel c uk

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  6. Like you, we have tons of blackthorn blossom out but only so many of them have decent sloes. Thankfully, we know where they are, involving some lovely walks to gather them.

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  7. I like the look of that kit but its a bit costly for me, lol
    I can vouch for those thorns, have been had by then many a time when picking sloes.
    Briony
    x

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    1. A gift for the person who has everything I think - a silly price

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  8. That blossom looks beautiful. I've seen it in a few places and it always cheers me. I'm not sure about the sloe gin kit. I thought the whole point of sloe gin was reaping the rewards of getting scratched, nettled and stung in muddy ditches on an autumn walk. Thank you for sharing the folklore

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    1. The blossom is everywhere this year - I shall look out for the sloes

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  9. I wouldn't want to be that little blackthorn fairy climbing through it with nothing covering my legs or feet. Ouch the thorns are sharp.

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    1. She sprinkled fairy dust to stop the thorns being sharp!

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  10. Our woodland is looking magnificent at the moment with blackthorn flowers dotted about, intermingling with the bright yellow of the gorse.

    I had no idea that you could buy a Sloe Gin Kit .... I don't think I'll bother though ;-)

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  11. Love the pictures of blackthorn in all it's glory. My father was from Mayo in the west of Ireland and although we lived in Scotland he always carried his Irish blackthorn stick,I have it still. My surname is Drennan which means blackthorn and now living in Wales and trying (with difficulty!) to learn the language,I find that the Welsh for blackthorn is drainduon and the Irish is draighean dubh so some Celtic connection there. Dundrennan Abbey in S.W. Scotland means the hill of the blackthorn which must be a lovely sight although it wasn't out when we were there.Sorry for the lesson,I will stop now !Thanks for your lovely pictures.

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    1. How brilliant that you have a blackthorn stick and that your name means Blackthorn. Hope you get on OK with learning Welsh - it looks pretty difficult

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  12. They are undoubtedly attractive when in flower, but the thorns can the sole of a wellington boot and the pain lasts for some time after. You might know this already; I certainly do.

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  13. We had plenty of blackthorn on our land when I lived on the farm but only about one year in four did we have enough sloes to make sloe gin But there was almost always plenty of blossom.

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  14. I have a great blackthorn walking stick brought back from my honeymoon in Ireland in 1984. It was cut from what I remember being a hedge, I think, on my husband's grandmother's farm. We were there in October, so I never saw it in bloom. It looks so very pretty.

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  15. Love the flowers on the blackthorn, they are so beautiful I would be very tempted to cut a few branches to bring in the house.

    God bless.

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    1. It is considered unlucky to bring it into the house.

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