Protected species of the month - Blackthorn

For the month of October we have decided to feature the only wild plum species in Latvia - blacktorn (Prunus spinosa).

Photo: Hans Braxmeier

The blackthorn is a medium-sized species of the rose family plum that looks like a shrub or small tree. The plant can be recognized by its thorns, which also gave it its name. The bark of the bush is gray, but the buds of the plant are spiky. Of course, the plant is best known for its dark fruits, which are edible and often used in wine and jams in other parts of Europe.

Photo: Annette Meyer

The blackthorn blossoms in late April and early May, but the fruits ripen very late - from the end of August until the beginning of October. Interestingly, the plant can live up to a hundred years! However, despite its longevity, thorn plums are extremely rare in Latvia and only a few specimens are found in nature. Meanwhile, in Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe, the plant forms dense, prickly impenetrable clumps and is considered an endangered species. The distribution of the species in Latvia is currently being evaluated and its future protection status is not yet known.

Distribution of the species in Latvia. Map: Jānis Ukass
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