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Being a relative newbie to Britain, I’m still very much a learner when it comes to identifying plants (and everything else, to be honest), so I was pleased recently to learn how to tell Cherry plum blossom from Blackthorn.

It’s partly in the timing – Cherry plum (Prunus cerasifera) usually flowers first, apparently – and also in the growth pattern, but a sure-fire way to tell whether the gorgeous blossom you’re puzzling over is this or Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), which flowers soon afterwards, is to look at the back of the flower.

In the Blackthorn the sepals (those leaf-like bits that originally enclose the flower but split apart when the flower opens) lay flat along the backs of the flower petals, or between them when fully open (photos above), whereas in the Cherry plum, the sepals are folded back (photos below).