Dr Lisa Mullen writes and presents ‘Sunday Feature: Sloe Time’, Radio 3, broadcast 4/10/2020

Image credit: Sloe flower, fruit, seed and leaves illustrated by Otto Wilhelm Thomé (1885)

Written and presented by Lisa Mullen and featuring an interview with Rob Macfarlane, this feature for R3 examined the cultural history and ecological entanglements of the often overlooked blackthorn – a hedgerow species which has been used in medicine and gin-making, is prized by woodworkers for its toughness, and is associated with superstitions and folk stories of faeries and witchcraft. Recorded during the summer lockdown, the programme considers whether the pandemic has changed popular perceptions of nature, either as a source of consolation or as an implacable force acting on human lives. Blackthorn seems to combine these two qualities, offering joy and warmth if it is handled carefully, but demanding respect for its bitter fruits and fearsome spikes.

For further details and to listen to the programme: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000n6bx