Prunus spinosa 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Rosales Rosaceae

Scientific Name: Prunus spinosa L.
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Blackthorn, Sloe
French Épine Noire, Prunellier, Prunier
Spanish Ciruelo Silvestre, Endrino, Espino Negro
Druparia spinosa Clairv.
Prunus acacia Crantz ex Poir.
Prunus acacia Crantz
Prunus acacia-germanica Crantz
Taxonomic Notes: Prunus spinosa L. is a wild relative of Almond P. dulcis (Mill.) D. A.Webb, Peach and Nectarine P. persica (L.) Batsch, cultivated Sloe P. spinosa L. and Sweet Cherry P. avium (L.) L.

It also belongs to the secondary Gene Pool of cultivated Plum P. domestica L. and Japanese Plum P. salicina Lindl. (USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program 2013).

Two subspecies are native to Europe: P. spinosa subsp. dasyphylla (Schur) Domin and P. spinosa subsp. spinosa (Kurtto 2009). In Portugal, an endemic subspecies is recognized: P. spinosa subsp. insititioides (Fic. & Coutinho) Franco, which is easily confused with P. domestica L. subsp. insititia (L.) C.K.Schneider (Espírito-Santo 1996).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2014-03-17
Assessor(s): Rhodes, L. & Maxted, N.
Reviewer(s): Fielder, H. & Oldfield, S.
Contributor(s): Collett, L., Draper Munt, D., Magos Brehm, J., Eliáš, P., Smekalova, T., Korpelainen, H., Labokas, J., Strajeru, S., Bulińska, Z., Tavares, M., Duarte, M.C., Kell, S.P. & Hargreaves , S.

Prunus spinosa is globally assessed as Least Concern as it is a widespread species that is documented to be common and stable in many areas of its native range. However, as suggested by Collett et al. (2011), in countries where it is nationally threatened, population monitoring it recommended.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Prunus spinosa is a widespread species that is native to much of Europe and also to Iran and Turkey in western Asia and the Caucasus (USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program 2013). P. spinosa subsp. insititioides is an endemic species from centre-west areas of Portugal, although there are records from the northeastern part of the country dating back the end of the 19th century (Espírito-Santo 1996, Collett et al. 2011).

Information on its national distribution in Europe is available for the following countries:
  • Slovakia: P. spinosa ssp. spinosa is common throughout the country; P. spinosa subsp. dasyphylla is distributed in the south (Bertová 1992).
  • France: widespread, occurring in all departments (Association Tela Botanica 2000–2010).
  • UK: widespread in all areas of England, Wales and Northern Ireland; also widespread in Scotland although its distribution becomes patchy in the far north (Preston et al. 2002). 
  • Ireland: widespread across the whole of the country (Preston et al. 2002).
  • Netherlands: widespread (Mennema et al. 1985).

Countries occurrence:
Albania; Andorra; Armenia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Georgia; Germany; Greece (East Aegean Is., Greece (mainland)); Hungary; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Ireland; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna, Sicilia); Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Malta; Moldova; Montenegro; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal (Portugal (mainland)); Romania; Russian Federation (Central European Russia, Chechnya, Dagestan, East European Russia, European Russia, Ingushetiya, Kabardino-Balkariya, Kaliningrad, Karachaevo-Cherkessiya, Krasnodar, North European Russia, Northwest European Russia, Severo-Osetiya, South European Russia, Stavropol); Serbia (Kosovo, Serbia); Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain (Baleares, Spain (mainland)); Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia, Turkey-in-Europe); Ukraine (Krym, Ukraine (main part)); United Kingdom (Great Britain, Northern Ireland)
Additional data:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Prunus spinosa is a widespread species, common in many countries. It is known to be stable in Slovakia, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (Collett et al. 2011).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Extreme fluctuations:UnknownPopulation severely fragmented:No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:UnknownAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:As described in the European Red List assessment for this species (Collett et al. 2011), it is able to grow in various habitats and soil types, occurring in open woodland, scrub, hedgerows, scree and cliff-slopes in the UK (Preston et al. 2002), and forest edges, roadside thickets, rocky sites and meadows in Finland where it favours limy soil. The Portuguese endemic Prunus spinosa subsp. insititioides occurs in alkaline soils and is frequent in woods, ditches, edges of paths and hedges (Espírito-Santo 1996).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Prunus spinosa is cultivated for its edible fruit and as an ornamental species; it is also used as a boundary/barrier and a revegetator (USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program 2013). P. spinosa is a wild relative of Almond P. dulcis, Peach and Nectarine Ppersica, cultivated Sloe Pspinosa and Sweet Cherry Pavium (Collett et al. 2011)It also belongs to the secondary Gene Pool of cultivated Plum P. domestica and Japanese Plum P. salicina and has been used as graftstock for Apricot P. armeniaca and Peach P. persica (USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program 2013). These genetic relationships mean that is has the potential for use as a gene donor for crop improvement.

P. spinosa subsp. insititioides is used as an ornamental and in hedges separating private land properties; the fruits of this subspecies are also used in producing alcoholic beverages (Espírito-Santo 1996, Collett et al. 2011).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): As identified in the European Red List assessment for this species, there is thought to be some hybridization occurring with cultivated Prunus domestica, which is threatening the genetic integrity of the species (Collett et al. 2011). Additional threats to this species remain unknown.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

This species is classified as Vulnerable in Lithuania (Rašomavičius 2007) and Estonia (Leht 2008), Near Threatened in Finland (Rassi et al. 2001), but is Least Concern in Denmark (Wind and Pihl 2010), Switzerland (Moser et al. 2002) and Europe as a whole (Collett et al. 2011).

As it is a widespread species some populations occur in protected areas (Collett et al. 2011). It is recommended that the monitoring and management of this species is incorporated into the existing management plans of these sites.

According to Espírito-Santo (1996) there is no need to undertake special conservation measures for the Portuguese endemic Prunus spinosa subsp. insititioides as it is conserved in situ in the Natural Park of Serra de Aire e Caindeeiros (Espírito-Santo 1992) and the Natural Park of Sintra-Cascais (Espírito-Santo 1996, Collett et al. 2011).

EURISCO reports 30 germplasm accessions of P. spinosa held in European genebanks, 13 of which are reported to be of wild or weedy origin. Of the wild accessions, five originate from within Europe—four from Spain (stored in the genebank of the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Agrónomos, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain) and one from France (stored in Nikitskyi Botanical Gardens, Ukraine) (EURISCO Catalogue 2010). The National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS), in the USA, holds eight accessions of this species, three of which are wild material however only one of these is duplicated at a second site (USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program 2013).

Citation: Rhodes, L. & Maxted, N. 2016. Prunus spinosa. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T172194A19400568. . Downloaded on 20 September 2018.
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