Prunus domestica - plum

This tree is only known in cultivation. It suckers from its roots, has few or no thorns, and produces edible fruit. Its origins are probably in the area known as the Fertile Crescent, where the diploid Myrobalan or Cherry plum (P. cerasifera) became polyploid. This form was then propagated by grafting starting in the Greco-Roman classical period, at the latest. Cultivation in Finland started over 300 years ago.

The plums are a group of small white-flowering trees which are worth planting even for their flowers alone. The fruit are larger than those of the cherry plum, usually about 4-5 cm wide, and they vary widely in appearance, colour and taste. They are usually divided into three groups, mainly on the basis of their fruit characteristics: the bullace, or damsons (subsp. insititia), mirabelles (subsp. syriaca) and greengages (subsp. italica). Altogether there are about two thousand varieties which are propagated by grafting onto Myrobalan root stock, for example. Traditional old-fashioned red and yellow plum varieties are also propagated using root suckers.

The fruit are used fresh, canned or dried. In the Balkans, for example, dried plums are widely used in producing alcohol (slivovitch). The drying process is on a massive scale, and the varieties used are usually those richest in sugar content.


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