After gorse, blackthorn is the earliest wild flower here, providing nectar and pollen for bees as they start emerging in the Spring, when the blackthorn bushes burst into bloom. The flowers appear before the leaves creating a beautiful ‘bridal’ effect in the hedgerows, where the white starry flowers stand out bright against the dark bark.
The Woodland Trust says that “its foliage is a food plant for the caterpillars of many moths, including the lackey, magpie, common emerald, small eggar, swallow-tailed and yellow-tailed. It is also used by the black and brown hairstreak butterflies.” By the Autumn also the flowers have developed into blue-purple fruit, sloes, which are too astringent for people to eat raw, but which can be used to make sloe gin.
Blackthorn can spread rapidly if not kept in check, covering large and increasing areas in dense, very spiny and impenetrable thickets.