Species list


Prunus domestica


Plum, common plum (Eng); ciruelo silvestre, ciruelero (Spa); prunera (Cat); aranondo (Baq); ameixieira, abrunheiro-manso (Por).


DID YOU KNOW...? The exquisite "Queen Claudia" greengage plum, of matchless aroma and sweetness, owes its peculiar name to a young 16th century French queen, Claudia I of France.


The plum is a medium-sized tree that grows to a maximum of 6 m tall. It has upright branches and a straight, greyish-brown trunk that is shiny and smooth or somewhat cracked. This tree is not usually thorny, but some plants that have become established in the wild may have thorny twigs. The leaves are simple, deciduous and alternate, and are sometimes so close together that they form bundles on short shoots. They are elliptical or inversely ovate in shape and have a finely serrated or crenate margin. They are usually 4-8 cm long and hairless, or a little hairy on the underside, principally along the main veins. The flowers, with 5 white petals, appear at almost the same time as the new leaves. They are hermaphroditic and in general grow in small groups of 2 or 3 flowers on long stalks. They are 1.5-4 cm in diameter when open. The plums mature quickly at the end of summer. This delicious fruit is very fleshy, round or elongated in shape. It varies in colour from yellow to blackish purple according to the variety. It contains a single hard, flattened stone that has a seed inside, and its skin is almost always covered with a whitish waxy layer (bloom) that comes off when rubbed.


The plum is one of the most robust fruit trees and is therefore very widely grown, making it difficult to discern between cultivated specimens and those that have become established in the wild. It prefers temperate climates, although it withstands low temperatures well, but suffers if there is a lack of water in the summer. The fruits and thin branches are very sensitive to the wind. It typically grows on limey soils. This fruit tree is cultivated in orchards and fertile valleys in the Canary Islands at altitudes of 400 m and above, from which it escapes and becomes established in the wild. It lives everywhere from the edges of paths, woodland, on the midslopes, or medianías (land between altitudes of 600 and 1500 m), wherever there is sufficient environmental humidity.


The plum has been manipulated by humans since ancient times, and little is known about the true origins of this plant. Nevertheless, it is thought to be native to southeastern Europe (Caucasus) and southwestern Asia. In the Canaries, as well as being widely cultivated on almost all the islands, it has also become established in the wild on Tenerife and Gran Canaria.