Damson European Plum
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The damson (Prunus insititia) is thought to have arisen through natural crosses in Asia between the sloe (Prunus spinosa) and the cherry plum (P. cerasifera). This is the Wild Damson brought into cultivation and first recorded in 1629. Several cultivars / varieties were selected and some may still be found in Great Britain, Ireland and the United States. Some known varieties in the UK include Farleigh Damson, Shropshire Prune, Aylesbury Prune, Frogmore, Merryweather, Early Rivers and Common Damson.
The damson often occurs as a semi-wild hedgerow plant a little like a European version of one of our bush tucker trees.
We know of no reliably named cultivars of P. insititia available in Australia.
Our Damson trees are most likely clones of a tree brought to Australia sometime after the arrival of the First Fleet. It may have been a named variety at the time although these tended to arise towards the latter half of the 19th century. More likely it is simply a common damson, possibly originally raised from seed.
Fruits are not eaten fresh but are flavoursome when cooked or preserved. Flesh is yellow and astringent.
- Pollination Group: self fertile
- Uses: drying, jam, preserves
- Harvest: mid to late i.e. March