Plums

A plum is a fruit of the subgenus Prunus of the genus Prunus. The subgenus is distinguished from other subgenera (peaches, cherries, bird cherries, etc.) in the shoots having a terminal bud and solitary side buds (not clustered), the flowers in groups of one to five together on short stems, and the fruit having a groove running down one side and a smooth stone (or pit). Mature plum fruit may have a dusty-white coating that gives them a glaucous appearance. This is an epicuticular wax coating and is known as "wax bloom". Dried plum fruits are called dried plums or prunes, although prunes are a distinct type of plum, and may have antedated the fruits now commonly known as plums.

A plum is a fruit of the subgenus Prunus of the genus Prunus. The subgenus is distinguished from other subgenera (peaches, cherries, bird cherries, etc.) in the shoots having a terminal bud and solitary side buds (not clustered), the flowers in groups of one to five together on short stems, and the fruit having a groove running down one side and a smooth stone (or pit).

Mature plum fruit may have a dusty-white coating that gives them a glaucous appearance. This is an epicuticular wax coating and is known as "wax bloom". Dried plum fruits are called dried plums or prunes, although prunes are a distinct type of plum, and may have antedated the fruits now commonly known as plums.

Description

Plums are a diverse group of species. The commercially important plum trees are medium-sized, usually pruned to 5–6 meters height. The tree is of medium hardiness.[2] Without pruning, the trees can reach 12 meters in height and spread across 10 meters. They blossom in different months in different parts of the world; for example, in about January in Taiwan and early April in the United Kingdom.[3]

Fruits are usually of medium size, between 1 to 3 inches in diameter, globose to oval. The flesh is firm and juicy. The fruit's peel is smooth, with a natural waxy surface that adheres to the flesh. The plum is a drupe, meaning its fleshy fruit surrounds a single hard seed.
Species
Prunus cultivar (mature fruits with natural wax bloom)
Plum flowers

Plum has many species, and taxonomists differ on the count. Depending on the taxonomist, between 19 to 40 species of plum exist. From this diversity only two species, the hexaploid European plum (Prunus domestica) and the diploid Japanese plum (Prunus salicina and hybrids), are of worldwide commercial significance. The origin of these commercially important species is uncertain but may have involved P. cerasifera and possibly P. spinosa as ancestors. Other species of plum variously originated in Europe, Asia and America.[4]

The taste of the plum fruit ranges from sweet to tart; the skin itself may be particularly tart. It is juicy and can be eaten fresh or used in jam-making or other recipes. Plum juice can be fermented into plum wine. In central England, a cider-like alcoholic beverage known as plum jerkum is made from plums.

Dried plums (or prunes) are also sweet and juicy and contain several antioxidants. Plums and prunes are known for their laxative effect. This effect has been attributed to various compounds present in the fruits, such as dietary fiber, sorbitol,[6] and isatin.[7] Prunes and prune juice are often used to help regulate the functioning of the digestive system. Dried prune marketers in the USA have, in recent years, begun marketing their product as "dried plums". This is due to "prune" having negative connotations connected with elderly people suffering from constipation.[8]

Dried, salted plums are used as a snack, sometimes known as saladito or salao. Various flavors of dried plum are available at Chinese grocers and specialty stores worldwide. They tend to be much drier than the standard prune. Cream, ginsing, spicy, and salty are among the common varieties. Licorice is generally used to intensify the flavor of these plums and is used to make salty plum drinks and toppings for shaved ice or baobing.

 


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