The proper scientific name for this tree is Prunus Spinosa, which I mention mainly to sneak in the perfectly good Scrabble word, PRUNUS.
The fruit of the sloe is a DRUPE (a word I just learned today describing any fleshy fruit with a stone inside) that looks a bit like a small purple plum.
Sloes (the fruit) are sometimes used to make jelly or jam (although sloe jam sounds more like a style of music than something you put on toast). Today’s fruit is, however, probably best known for bringing into the world a flavored liqueur called sloe gin.
Just for fun, I thought I’d find out how to make it…
And you know what? That’s already enough to solve most crossword clues you’ll see for this fellow…
- Dark purple fruit
- Plum variety
- Gin flavoring
- Blackthorn fruit
But I knew you would want more, so I came prepared…
Although the sloe is mostly used for its fruit, the wood of the tree also gets a good workout. Most interesting, for word gamers I mean, is the fact that the wood of the sloe tree is often used to make a traditional Irish walking stick, or club, called a … wait for it … SHILLELAGH (pronounced /shi.LAY.lee or shi.LAY.la/, in case you were wondering).
So there you go. You now have a word to describe that little stick thingy that leprechauns seem to carry around all the time. And on that note, I’m going to leave you with a funny t-shirt…
P.S. At a handsome 10 letters long, the Scrabble player is likely to require a shillelagh before playing one, but they might have some luck with the slightly more playable 9-letter variant, SHILLELAH.
P.P.S. Collins/CSW/SOWPODS Scrabble fans also get access to the following treats: SLOEBUSH, SLOETHORN, and SLOETREE. The last one is particularly important as it is a very high probability bingo!