AskDefine | Define sloe

Dictionary Definition



1 wild plum of northeastern United States having dark purple fruits with yellow flesh [syn: Allegheny plum, Alleghany plum, Prunus alleghaniensis]
2 a thorny Eurasian bush with plumlike fruits [syn: blackthorn, Prunus spinosa]
3 small sour dark purple fruit of especially the Allegheny plum bush

User Contributed Dictionary



slah, from *|slaikhwon. Cognate with Dutch slee, German Schlehe.




  1. The small, bitter, wild fruit of the blackthorn (Prunus spinosa); also, the tree itself.
  2. Any of various other plants of the genus Prunus, as a shrub or small tree, P. alleghaniensis, bearing dark-purple fruit.

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

Blackthorn redirects here; for other uses, see Blackthorn (disambiguation)
Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn or Sloe) is a species of Prunus native to Europe, western Asia, and locally in northwest Africa.
It 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 slightly creamy-white petals; they are produced shortly before the leaves in early spring, and are hermaphroditic and insect-pollinated. The fruit, called a "sloe" (slae, in the Scots language) is a drupe 10–12 mm diameter, black with a pale purple-blue waxy bloom, ripening in autumn; it is thin-fleshed, with a very strongly astringent flavour when fresh.

Cultivation and uses

The fruit is similar to a small damson or plum, suitable for preserves, but rather tart and astringent for eating, unless deeply frozen, as is practiced in eastern Europe. In rural Britain so-called sloe gin is made from them, though this is not a true gin but a liqueur. In Navarra, Spain, patxaran is a popular liqueur made with sloes. Sloes can also be made into jam and, if preserved in vinegar, are similar in taste to Japanese umeboshi. It is extensively planted for hedging and for cover for game birds. The small thorns of the plant are relatively common causes of minor wounds in livestock, and these wounds often fester until the thorn is expelled or removed.
Straight blackthorn stems have traditionally been made into walking sticks and clubs (known in Ireland for example as a shillelagh).
The species is locally naturalised in New Zealand and eastern North America.
The expression "sloe-eyed" for a person with dark eyes comes from the fruit


sloe in Franco-Provençal: Belociér
sloe in Asturian: Prunus spinosa
sloe in Catalan: Aranyoner
sloe in Danish: Slåen
sloe in German: Schlehdorn
sloe in Estonian: Laukapuu
sloe in Spanish: Prunus spinosa
sloe in Esperanto: Prunelo
sloe in Basque: Elorri beltz
sloe in French: Prunellier
sloe in Friulian: Sespâr
sloe in Galician: Abruñeiro
sloe in Armenian: Մամուխ
sloe in Upper Sorbian: Dorničel
sloe in Italian: Prunus spinosa
sloe in Georgian: კვრინჩხი
sloe in Limburgan: Sjlièkreek
sloe in Hungarian: Kökény
sloe in Dutch: Sleedoorn
sloe in Japanese: スピノサスモモ
sloe in Norwegian: Slåpetorn
sloe in Polish: Śliwa tarnina
sloe in Russian: Тёрн
sloe in Sicilian: Prunus spinosa
sloe in Finnish: Oratuomi
sloe in Swedish: Slån
sloe in Ukrainian: Терен
sloe in Walloon: Purnale

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

atramentous, black, black as coal, black as ebony, black as ink, black as midnight, black as night, coal-black, coaly, dark, dark as night, dark as pitch, deep black, ebony, ink-black, inky, jetty, midnight, night-black, night-dark, nigrous, pitch-black, pitch-dark, pitchy, raven, raven-black, sable, sloe-black, sloe-colored, tar-black, tarry
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