Blackthorn toxicity

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.

(Prunus spinosa)


Is blackthorn toxic?

No, blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) is non-toxic when eaten as a fruit. The fruits of this plant are edible.

The leaves and flowers of the plant have certain contraindications because they contain prussic acid, which breaks down into hydrogen cyanide, a potent toxic.

The seeds are poisonous because they contain hydrocyanic acid.

* More information about Blackthorn Contraindications in the listing above.

What are the blackthorn components?

  • Sucrose (fruits)

  • Pectin (fruit)

  • Organic acids: caffeic, ferulic (fruits), prussic (seeds, bark, leaves), hydrogen (seeds).

  • Vitamin C (fruits)

  • Flavonoids: quercetin, rutin, kaempferol, prunicyanin (purple coloring of the fruit)

  • Amygdalin

  • Tannins

Principles and toxic hazards of Blackthorn

Photo of blackthorn flowers

Photo of blackthorn flowers

The toxic principles of blackthorn are:

  • Prussic acid (seeds, bark, leaves)

  • Hydrogen cyanide (seeds)

  • Tannins.

Prussic acid is found in the seeds of the fruit, bark and leaves of the plant. It is a cyanogenic glycoside which by enzymatic action of the saliva releases hydrogen cyanide wich is toxic.

The seeds are poisonous. Certain amounts of hydrocyanic acid have been found on them.

Internal use of the leaves and flowers of the plant should be done under medical control because of the content in cyanogenic glycosides in these parts of the plant. The pulp of the fruit is edible.

The tannins are irritating in high doses of the intestinal mucosa and can cause vomiting and even ulcerations. They block intestinal secretions and alter the bacterial flora, causing constipation. Considering this, fruits should not be taken in large quantities.

Blackthorn for pregnancy and lactation

One should NOT perform treatments with leaves and flowers of blackthorn during pregnancy and lactation. The seeds are poisonous.

The fruits are edible, but should be taken in moderation because they contain tannins.

More information on blackthorn.

Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

19 March, 2019

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