Prunus spinosa

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaRosaceaePrunusPrunus spinosa


A deciduous shrub or small tree of open woodlands, scrub, hedgerows, screes and cliff-slopes; a prostrate form also occurs on shingle beaches. It grows on a wide variety of soils. It reproduces by seed, and spreads vegetatively by suckers, often forming dense thickets. In many areas, native populations have been augmented by deliberate planting in hedgerows and copses. 0-500 m (Cross Fell, Cumberland).



World Distribution

European Temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.

© P. Shannon

Broad Habitats

Boundary and linear features (eg hedges, roadsides, walls)

Light (Ellenberg): 6

Moisture (Ellenberg): 5

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 6


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 1

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.7

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.8

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1032

Life form information

Height (cm): 400

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Mega-, meso- and microphanerophyte



Clonality - primary

Clones formed by suckering from roots

Distribution information

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 2308

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 917

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 9

Atlas Change Index: 0.4

Weighted Changed Factor: -6

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


Distribution information

JNCC Designations


PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Atlas text references

Atlas (128c)
Hopkins JJ
1996.  Scrub ecology and conservation. British Wildlife. 8:28-36.
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.
Rackham O
1980.  Ancient woodland: its history, vegetation and uses in England.