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Edible Edible Autumn Autumn

Damsons are best cooked into jams, jellies, leathers or other puddings or used as a substitute for sloes when making sloe gin.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Damson
Scientific Name Prunus domestica subsp insititia
Season Start Sep
Season End Oct
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


Dark green, shiny and oval shaped with a serrated edge.


Clusters of small, white flowers with five petals.


A dark blue/black fruit with a thin white bloom.


The trunk is usually fairly thin the bark is often covered in scars, moss and lichen.


Mixed woodland, hedgerows, parks, gardens and along pavements.

Possible Confusion

Other members of the plum family.


Like a slightly sour plum busting with flavour.




Damson trees don’t usually grow too tall so they can be easy to reach or in some years the weight of the fruit bends the branches down to picking height for you.

Medicinal Uses

It is thought the name Damson originates from ‘plum of Damascus’ and it was brought over by the Romans but recent studies show that it might have evolved from a hybrid with the Sloe or Blackthorn and another member of the plum family.
Damsons were used in the past for many different ailments but modern medicine doesn’t seem very interested in them.

Other Facts

It was used as a dye in the 18th and 19th centuries.


6 comments for Damson

  1. Rory O'Neill says:

    I think we have Damson trees in our garden.
    The trees are tall and spindly and don’t seem to want to grow out, just up.
    They are way over 10-15 feet tall as well, which is apparently the norm?
    Can I prune them to grow outwards?
    Perhaps they aren’t Damsons, but they look like it!

    1. Phil Leng says:

      Hi Rozzer, damsons in the garden, lucky man! Damsons do like to shoot up, and if they are damsons you aren’t going to do them any harm by giving trimming the spindly growth growing up.

  2. Elaine Moore says:

    We have planted a damson tree3/4years ago in our orchard and it never has any blossom or fruit can you please help
    I think it is a damson tree but it may be a plumb tree.The leaves are small but not shines,it has grown quite a lot in height and width and looks very healthy
    I look forward to your reply.
    Many thanks
    Elaine Moore

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      A lot of fruit trees can take several years to produce fruit.

  3. Christina McFarlane says:

    I am not convinced that a tree bought from Wyevale about 4 years ago is actually a damson. The tree is rather spindly, and has grown to about 12 feet tall. The leaves are small, and one of the 2 trunks has large spikes. Can you please help. I’m hoping it’s not a sloe.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      The only way to tell is wait for the fruit. I like to eat sloes so it wouldn’t be a problem for me but they are not to most peoples tastes.

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