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European Plum and Prune

European Plum And Prune
Rosaceae
Deciduous, Edible fruit, Trees

PLUM

Like their cherry, peach, and apricot relatives, these are stone fruits belonging to the genus Prunus, which is the name you'll find their flowering cousins listed under. For crosses involving plums, apricots, and peaches, see Plum Hybrids.

Three categories of edible plums and prunes are grown in the West: European, Japanese, and hardy. All bloom in late winter or early spring; fruit ripens at some point from May into September, depending on variety and climate. 

The two most widely grown groups are European (Prunus x domestica) and Japanese (P. salicina). 'Damson' plum, which is sometimes considered a separate species, is probably a type of European plum (P. x domestica insititia); 'Damson' interbreeds freely with other European plums.

Prunes are European plum varieties with a high sugar content that makes it possible to sun-dry the fruit without it fermenting.

In the dry-summer West, plums are subject to far fewer problems than peaches or apples.

Dormant-season sprays combining horticultural oil with lime sulfur or fixed copper will control the fungal disease brown rot and various insect pests, including scale.

European Plum and Prune

European plums and prunes bloom later than Japanese plums and are better adapted to areas with late frosts or cool, rainy spring weather. Many are self-fruitful, but others need cross-pollination to produce good crops. Their flesh that is firmer that that of Japanese plums, and can be cooked or eaten fresh.

Prunes are a form of European plum with a higher sugar content that makes it possible to sun-dry the fruit without it fermenting; they are used for drying or canning, but they can also be eaten fresh if you like their very sweet flavor. ‘Damson‘ plum, which is sometimes considered a separate species, is probably a type of European plum (P. x domestica insititia); ‘Damson‘ interbreeds freely with other European plums.

European plums demand 700 to 1,000 hours of chill to produce fruit.

As orchard trees, European plums reach 15‘20 ft. tall with somewhat wider spread, but with pruning they are easily kept to 10‘15 ft. high and wide. There are no truly dwarfing rootstocks for plums, and semidwarf trees are only slightly smaller than standards. European plums do not branch as freely as Japanese types, so selection of framework branches is limited; these plums are usually trained to a central leader. Mature European plums require pruning mainly to thin out annual shoot growth; otherwise, little is needed.

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