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Fruits Prunus domestica.jpg

Plum ( Prunus domestica )

Order : Rose-like (rosales)
Family : Rose family (Rosaceae)
Subfamily : Spiraeoideae
Tribe : Stone fruit family (Amygdaleae)
Genre : Prunus
Type : plum
Scientific name
Prunus domestica
Fey's yellow house plum
Short shoots with winter buds

The plum or cultivated plum ( Prunus domestica ) is a species of the genus Prunus in the rose family (Rosaceae). The fruit is also known as a plum .


Vegetative characteristics

The plum is an often sparsely growing shrub or tree that reaches heights of up to 6 (rarely up to 10) meters. The bark is gray-brown and almost smooth. Young twigs are bare or have hairs up to the second year and are unarmed or thorny. The long shoots have no real terminal bud. The buds are often hairy and 4.5 to 5 (rarely from 1.5) millimeters long. Flower buds are not to be found clustered at the end of the branch, but with internodes on the short shoots. The leaves measure 3 to 8 × 1.8 to 5 centimeters, are elongated-elliptical, notched to sawed on the edge, dull green on the upper side and mostly bare on both. The leaves are rolled in the bud position. The petiole is 1.5 to 2.5 inches long and has one or two small glands or none.

Generative characteristics

The flowering period extends from April to May. Two to three flowers are grouped together in a sitting, dold-like inflorescence and appear with the leaves or just before them. The protruding flower stalk is 0.5 to 2 inches long and glabrous or delicately hairy. The hermaphroditic flowers are 2 to 4 centimeters in diameter and are radially symmetrical and five-fold with a double flower envelope . The five sepals are completely or partially hairy and rounded to oblong. The five petals are 0.7 to 1.2 centimeters long, elliptical, entire and pure white, greenish white or yellowish green. Most of the 20 stamens are usually slightly shorter than the petals. The anthers are yellow.

small blue plum

The shape of the fruits varies greatly in size, shape and color with the variety. There is a wide range of colors between black, blue-black, blue, blue-red, violet, purple-red, red, yellow and yellow-green. The fruits, however, are usually frosted, between 1 and 8 centimeters long, spherical to oblong-egg-shaped, furrowed and hanging. The pulp tastes sweet to tart and is juicy. The stone core is over 13 millimeters long, spherical to ellipsoid, keeled, more or less flattened and smooth to bumpy. Comb marks are usually present on the dorsal furrow. The pulp is easily detached from the core or sticks. The seeds usually taste bitter.

The number of chromosomes is 2n = 48 (16).


In contrast to many members of the genus Prunus , the plum has no extra-floral nectaries .

The ovaries are not infrequently infected by the micro fungus Taphrina pruni , which creates hollow fruits, the so-called fool's pockets .

The stone fruits are colored by anthocyanins and they have a wax coating.


Mirabelle cultivation in Rheinhessen
Images of the fruit

The first publication of Prunus domestica was in 1753 by Carl von Linné . So far, there has only been speculation about the origin of the plum, more detailed studies are lacking.

Hildemar Scholz and Ilse Scholz distinguish the following seven subspecies in Volume IV, Part 2B of the Illustrated Flora of Central Europe from 1995:

  • Plum ( Prunus domestica subsp. Domestica )
  • Creeping plum or oat plum ( Prunus domestica subsp. Insititia (L.) CKSchneid. )
  • Half plum ( Prunus domestica subsp. Intermedia )
  • Greengage ( Prunus domestica subsp. Italica (Borkh.) Gams ex Hegi )
  • Spilling ( Prunus domestica subsp. Pomariorum )
  • Ziparte ( Prunus domestica subsp. Prisca )
  • Mirabelle ( Prunus domestica subsp. Syriaca (Borkh.) Janch. Ex Mansf. )

In the first edition of the excursion flora from Austria, further subspecies are specified, "taken from the publications of HL Werneck ... (laboriously), which credibly demonstrate that the shape of the stone is much more important than the color of the fruit (skin)" :

In the more recent editions of 2005 and 2008, a key to differentiate between the subspecies is dispensed with, since “taxonomy due to the lack of a careful u. scientific processing unsatisfactory ”. It is noted that Udelgard Körber-Grohne makes a distinction similar to the one above, but "unfortunately without sufficient indication of the differences, and there is no key to clarify the confused jumble".


Already about 2000 years ago the Roman Marcus Valerius Martial wrote : "Take plums for the rotten burden of old age, because they tend to loosen the tense stomach."

The plums were probably brought home by Alexander the Great after his campaigns. Damascus established itself as the center of the plum trade , and the term “plum” could mean the borrowing and subsequent adaptation of “Damascus”, as linguists suspect. The fact that plums and plums were systematically grown in Central Europe is said to have been thanks to Charlemagne .


Around 71 percent of the plum harvest in Germany comes from Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate , especially from the Upper Rhine Plain .

World production

In 2018 the world harvest was 12.6 million tons. The country with the largest plum production in the world was China , which produced 53.8% of the world's harvest. The ten largest producing countries brought in around 78.7% of the world harvest.

The ten largest plum producers in 2018 were:

rank Country of production Amount in t
1 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 6,788,107
2 RomaniaRomania Romania 842.132
3 SerbiaSerbia Serbia 842.132
4th United StatesUnited States United States 368.206
5 IranIran Iran 313.103
6th TurkeyTurkey Turkey 296,878
7th IndiaIndia India 251,389
8th ChileChile Chile 229,951
9 MoroccoMorocco Morocco 205.222
10 UkraineUkraine Ukraine 198.070
remaining countries 2,685,421
world 12,608,678

Plum wood

Plum wood (lightly sanded and oiled)

Plum wood is only used extensively economically. The wood of plum trees is hard, dense and fine-pored with a kiln density of 750 kg / m³. It has a uniform structure with a noticeable color spectrum after cutting. The sapwood is light while the heartwood shows red and purple tones. However, when exposed to UV light, the wood darkens and over time turns dark brown with only faintly visible grain. Due to the small trunk diameter of the trees, the wood is mainly used in carpentry, carving and turning for smaller workpieces, musical instruments and decorative elements, less often than veneer or furniture wood. Like other fruit woods, plum wood is also used as firewood because of its good calorific value .


The plum moth is a major pest whose infestation can lead to significant crop failures.

Web links

Wiktionary: Plum  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Cultivated Plum ( Prunus domestica )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f Hildemar Scholz, Ilse Scholz: Prunus. In: Hildemar Scholz (Hrsg.): Illustrated flora of Central Europe. Founded by Gustav Hegi. 2nd, completely revised and enlarged edition. Volume IV Part 2B: Spermatophyta: Angiospermae: Dicotyledones 2 (3) (Rosaceae, 2nd part) , Blackwell, Berlin / Vienna et al. 1995, ISBN 3-8263-2533-8 .
  2. a b c Ruprecht Düll , Herfried Kutzelnigg : Pocket dictionary of plants in Germany and neighboring countries. The most common Central European species in portrait. 7th, corrected and enlarged edition. Quelle & Meyer, Wiebelsheim 2011, ISBN 978-3-494-01424-1 .
  3. Wolfgang Adler, Karl Oswald, Raimund Fischer: Excursion flora from Austria. Ed .: Manfred A. Fischer . Ulmer, Stuttgart / Vienna 1994, ISBN 3-8001-3461-6 .
  4. Karl-Ernst Behre : Form circles of Prunus domestica L. from the Viking Age to the early modern period according to fruit stones from Haithabu and Old Schleswig. In: Reports of the German Botanical Society 91, 1978, pp. 161–179.
  5. U. Körber-Grohne: Plums, cherry plums, sloes. Plants of today and their history since the early days , Stuttgart 1996.
  6. ^ Manfred A. Fischer, Karl Oswald, Wolfgang Adler: Excursion flora for Austria, Liechtenstein and South Tyrol. 3rd improved edition. State of Upper Austria, Biology Center of the Upper Austrian State Museums, Linz 2008, ISBN 978-3-85474-187-9 .
  7. Karl-Ernst Behre: Form circles of Prunus domestica L. from the Viking Age to the early modern period according to fruit stones from Haithabu and Old Schleswig. In: Reports of the German Botanical Society , Volume 91 1978, pp. 161–179
  8. Cakes and red grits - full cherry harvest -
  9. ^ A b Crops> Plums and sloes. In: Official FAO production statistics for 2018., accessed on April 6, 2020 .
  10. Aidan Walker: Atlas of the types of wood. 150 pieces of wood in words and pictures. , 2nd edition, Stuttgart 2010.
  11. a b Swiss Material Archive: Entry on the wood of the plum tree . As of May 6, 2019.