But fortunately, both are fruits and are well known for being ingredients to make tasty gin. One can easily mistake bullaces for sloes or vice versa, but you can pick the right one by noticing their taste, tree, and color. You may also see our article based on flower names that start with I.

Bullaces And Sloes

There are many similarities between the two, and some are shared with Damsons. However, anyone can identify them by knowing the distinguishing features of both plants. In this article, we have shared all the tips and tricks to differentiate between Bullaces and Sloes.

What Is The Difference Between Bullaces And Sloes?

The major differences between Bullaces and Sloes are the plant size on which they grow and the size of the berry. Due to basic similarities in color and shape, anyone can get confused. Therefore, we have enlisted differentiating aspects that can highlight which one is bullace or sloe.

You can also visit our blog: Can You Eat Sloe Berries?

What Is Their Growth Pattern?

Most importantly, bullaces and sloes grow on different plants. Those plants have unique qualities and growth patterns.

  • Bullaces grow on shrubs or small trees, while sloes are found on blackthorn bushes.
  • The blackthorn bushes contain thorns all around, which is one of the distinguishing aspects.
  • In contrast, bullaces do not have any thorns on their shrubs and are quite easy to harvest.
  • Not just growth but the size also differs as Bullaces are comparably double the size of sloes. However, the shape is round in both.

What Color Differences Do They Have?

There is prominent color variation between bullaces and sloes.

  • Sloe berries are blue-black, and the ripened fruit has a soft texture.
  • On the other hand, bullaces have different colors depending on their types. Black bullaces are similar in color to sloes, but White and Shepherds’ bullaces have a yellowish color and different textures compared to sloes.
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How Do They Taste?

The taste of sloes isn’t much different from bullaces as both are bitter or sour. The acidic taste is more noticeable when the berries are unripened.

However, sloes are sourer than bullaces. After cooking, both taste delicious.

How to Identify Bullaces?

How to Identify Bullaces

It is not a big deal to identify bullaces. Here are a few things that can you identify if the plant is of bullace or some other berry.

See the plant; if the leaves are oval, have white flowers and dark bark, it is bullace.

You can find bullace plants in parks, woodlands, and hedgerows in the form of shrubs to small-sized trees.

The plant develops many small white flowers that bloom when April ends. You can harvest bullaces or pick berries in October and November.

The taste remains the same even after fully ripening. Bullaces are well known for their astringent.

With the start of the first winter frost, its sour taste diminishes and feels sweeter. The skin of the berry breaks during frost, and the tannin level decreases dramatically. The taste of White and Shepherd's bullaces is different from Black bullaces. They taste sour but not more than Black bullace, and when raw or unripe, they taste comparably sweet.

You will not like the taste of bullace if you eat it right off the tree. But once cooked, it tastes amazing. Their sweet taste pops up after cooking. Even though it still has some tart taste, the sweetness dominates to soothe taste buds.

Bullaces are popular ingredients for making jams, chutneys, jellies, and cheeses.

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How to Identify Sloes?

How to Identify Sloes

To identify sloes, you should first pay attention to the blackthorn shrubs. The plant has numerous thorns and is found mostly in hedgerows. Blackthorn shrubs are spread with dark bark and spiky thorns.

The maximum size these shrubs attain is three meters, but they are dense in nature. Along with hedgerows, you can find them in woodlands and rocky areas. The size of the sloe berry is only a few centimeters.

The plants’ leaves are ovular with toothed edges, attached with white flowers blooming in March and May. However, the berries develop in Autumn. The berries have a round shape and deep blue-black color.

These are best grown when the first winter frost hits, and the taste also converts to sweeter and less sour. After frost, they taste much better; once cooked, their tartness reduces tenfold.

Due to their sweet taste after cooking, sloes are the major ingredient in making gin, fruity cheeses, and chutneys.

What Is The Recipe to Make Sloe or Bullace Gin?

The recipe and method aren’t different for making sloe gin or bullace gin. You can make gin within ten minutes by following these instructions.


  • Sloes or Bullaces (200 g)
  • Cane Caster Sugar (100 g)
  • Gin or Vodka 500 ml


  • Rinse sloes/bullaces thoroughly and remove extra stalks or leaves.
  • Add the measured amount of sugar in the bottle (demijohn or Kilner jar) for infusion.
  • Add sloes/bullaces in the jar.
  • Add gin/vodka inside the jar below the rim.
  • Keep the jar in a cool but dark place.
  • Leave the infuse for at least three months and shake it often.
  • Use filter paper for filtration and serve your best sloe or bullace gin.


What can be mistaken for sloes?

Usually, members of the plum family are confused with each other. Bullaces and damsons can be mistaken for sloes due to so many similarities. However, all are edible but have a bit different taste.

Is Bullace a damson?

Bullace isn’t a damson but a different plum that bears edible fruit quite similar to damson.

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The Bottom Line

Bullaces and Sloes are often mistaken by other berries and even by themselves. In reality, each berry is different from the others in terms of taste, shape, texture, and color. We hope the differences and tips we mentioned to differentiate between bullaces and sloes will help you identify them.