Blackthorn (bionomial name Prunus spinosa) also known as sloe is a species of Prunus native to Europe, western Asia, and locally in northwest Africa. It is also locally naturalised in New Zealand and eastern North America. Prunus spinosa is a deciduous large shrub or small tree growing to 5 m tall, with blackish bark and dense, stiff, spiny branches. The leaves are oval, 2–4.5 cm long and 1.2–2 cm broad, with a serrated margin. The flowers are 1.5 cm diameter, with five creamy-white petals; they are produced shortly before the leaves in early spring.[1]


Blackthorn, which is a very unusual wand wood, has the reputation — in Garrick Ollivander's opinion well-merited — of being best suited to a warrior. This does not necessarily mean that its owner practises the Dark Arts (although it is undeniable that those who do so will enjoy the blackthorn wand’s prodigious power); one finds blackthorn wands among the Aurors as well as among the denizens of Azkaban and Death Eaters.[2]

It is a curious feature of the blackthorn bush, which sports wicked thorns, that it produces its sweetest berries after the hardest frosts, and the wands made from this wood appear to need to pass through danger or hardship with their owners to become truly bonded. Given this condition, the blackthorn wand will become as loyal and faithful a servant as one could wish.[2]

Blackthorn wand owners


The word "sloe" comes from Old English slāh. The same word is noted in Middle Low German, historically spoken in Lower Saxony, Middle Dutch "sleuuwe" or, contracted form, "slē", from which come Modern Low German words: "slē", "slī", and Modern Dutch "slee", Old High German "slēha", "slēwa", from which come Modern German "Schlehe" and Danish "slåen".[1]

Behind the scenes

  • Blackthron and its association with warriors is a likely reference to the shillelagh, a walking stick and club that was originally used for settling disputes in a gentlemanly manner — like a duel with pistols or swords. Modern practitioners of bataireacht (forms of stick-fighting from Ireland) study the use of the shillelagh for self-defense and as a martial art. In modern usage, it is recognised as a symbol of Irishness.


Notes and references

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