Plum Varieties for Home Production


Along with peaches and nectarines, plums are the defining fruit of the summer season.

European Plums-Prunus domestica These are usually, but certainly not always, yellow fleshed blue skinned plums, that are often naturally 'drier' than the Japanese plums, and with a more delicate and refined flavor. They also encompass prune plums, which are sweet but rather insipid. The Damson plum is also in this group, and in contrast, it is very acid, and usually used soley for preserves or flavored gin.
European plums are usually late flowering and have a higher winter chill requirement than Japanese plums. Some European plums, such as the damson, produce prodigously in the warm temperate areas, others hardy at all. As a general rule, they are better adapted to temperate, rather than warm temperate areas.

Japanese Plums-Prunus salicina bloom early, and can be damaged by early spring frosts. This makes them more generally suited to warm temperate rather than temperate areas.

Hardy Plums-these are selections of native American species of wild plums, or hybrids between these species. These plums are hardy, late blooming, usually small or very small plums adapted to the rigors of northern continental climates where most of even the more winter hardy European plum are not successful.

Note: with increasing urbanisation, small lots, longer hours worked, competing leisure activities and a more mobile society, home fruit gardening has decreased markedly. As a result, mainstream nurseries stock fewer cultivars. Some of these cultivars will be hard to find. The best starting place will be our directories of helpful home food gardening products for your country.


ANGELINA BURDETT-Early season. This dark purple skinned, yellow-green fleshed small plum has excellent flavor, but has a fairly high chilling requirement. Pollenizer are 'Greengage' and 'President'.UK NZ AU

CACAK EARLY- Early season. Medium sized blue-black prune plum NZ

CACAK BEST-Mid season. Large blue-black prune plum. NZ

COES GOLDEN DROP-Mid season. Large yellow skinned, yellow firm fleshed fruit of sweet and fine flavor if fully ripened on the tree. Requires a sunny aspect to fully ripen the fruit. Pollenizers 'Greengage' and 'President'. C.G.D. bears reasonably well in warm temperate areas. UK NZ AU

GREEN GAGE- Historically, known on the continent as 'Reine Claude Dorée'. Introduced to England by Sir Thomas Gage, when it became known as the 'Green Gage'. `Mid season.The small to medium sized fruit are green, or in some variants, greenish yellow. The flesh is a transluscent greenish yellow, and the taste is pure nectar. It is one of the most refined and exquisitely flavored plums there is.Unfortuneately, like most gages, most variants have a fairly high winter chilling requirement, and fruit poorly if at all in warm temperate areas. Prone to splitting after rain. Barely self fertile, use Stanley, Coe's Golden Drop or Angelina Burdett as pollenizers. US UK NZ AU

GROSS GRUNE RENEKLODE-syn. 'Greengage'.Mid season.A small round greenish yellow prune plum. NZ

REINE CLAUDE de BAVAY-basically a greengage, but the fruit are a bit larger and a bit firmer than the true greengage. Some consider it may have a European plum of some variety as one parent.

PEARL - regarded as one of the best flavored European plums. US

WANGENHEIM- Mid season. The small fruit have dark red skin. A prune plum. NZ

MILTON EARLY ITALIAN - A version of 'Italian' that ripens 10-14 days earlier than Italian, but is otherwise pretty much the same. US

ITALIAN-syn.'Fellenburg'- Late season. A very well known prune plum in the Western United States, 'Italian' is large, dark blue with a heavy bloom, and is a freestone. It has a better flavor than 'Stanley' prune plum. It bears extremely heavily, but often drops a lot of fruit in summer. The greenish yellow flesh turns dark wine when cooked, making it very attractive when canned/bottled. Self fertile.US NZ

MOUNT ROYAL-A very hardy, medium sized, round blue plum. The flesh is yellow. The tree is productive, medium vigor, and very hardy. US

D'AGEN 707-Late season. Late season. A small, red skinned, clingstone prune plum. NZ

DAMSON-Late season. These small, round, blue-black plums are covered in a heavy bloom (like many blue European plums) and have amber-green flesh. They are acid, and are usually used for jelly/jams or for damson gin (!), but if the fruit are left on the tree very late they become of acceptable eating quality, if rather 'sharp'. The trees are vigorous and bear prodigously, with some selections ('damson' tends to be a generic term for many similar varieties) bearing very well in the warm temperate areas. Disease resistant.

HAUSZWETSCHE-Late season. A small fruited blue black prune plum, which altho' semi-clingstone is self fertile. NZ

STANLEY-Late season. The large purplish-blue freestone fruit have greenish-yellow flesh which is juicy and sweet, but somewhat insipid. It does not require a pollenizer, and is itself a useful pollenizer.The tree is large and spreading, and starts into fruiting young. It crops heavily and reliably (late blooming helps avoid late frost). Stanley is very suceptible to brown rot, so it will need to be sprayed with fungicide in wet areas.The fruit are also susceptible to splitting after rain. US NZ UK

SUGAR PRUNE-A large, dark purple prune plum with purple, sweet flesh, but, like most prunes, lacks particular flavor.US

STARK® BLUE RIBBONTM syn.-'Aldrich'. Late season. A typical deep blue, sweet, heavy bearing freestone prune plum.US

YELLOW EGG-Late season. This yellow, thick skinned yellow fleshed fruit is juicy, freestone, but without marked flavor. US

FRENCH IMPROVED-Late season. The dark purple, long, loval fruit is medium sized, sweet, but without high flavor. US

More Prune Plum Information

Prune plum cultivars in New Zealand JJJ A report on 21 prune plum cultivars imported by the 'HortResearch'   State owned business for trial as a commercial crop. The information is commercially orientated, and reflects Central Otago, New Zealand, experience primarily, but is useful nevertheless. Several good photos.


BILLINGTON-'Billington Early'. Early season. Billington is a small plum with dark red skin and firm red very good flavored flesh. Self fertile. NZ

BLACK BEAUT-Early season. A large purplish black, tough, acid-skinned plum with yellow flesh changing to red with increasing maturity.B.B. is juicy, and moderately sweet. Readily available in the markets as one of  the first plums of the season, so it is better to leave this cultivar to the commercial growers.US

BURGUNDY-Early season. A small, sweet, mild flavored plum with cherry red skin and red flesh, 'Burgundy' is self fertile and carries heavy crops on an upright tree. US

DUFF'S EARLY JEWEL-Early season. DEJ is also a small fruit, but a bit larger than 'Wilson's Early, and also has red skin and yellow flesh.' DEJ has the advantage of being self fertile.NZ

METHLEY-Early season. Small to medium, round reddish purple plums with soft, juicy, red flesh and veery good flavor.Methley has a low chilling requirement, and performs well in areas with cool summers and mild winters.It has the virtue of being self fertile, and being able to pollenize 'burbank', 'mariposa', and 'satsuma'.

RED HEART-Early season. A cross of Duarte x Wickson, introduced in 1952. Redheart is a medium to large dark red plum covered in a heavy grayish bloom and with bright red, fine grained, sweet and aromatic flesh. the fruit hold well on the tree. The vigorous and upright tree is pollenized by 'Elephant Heart', 'Wickson' and 'Santa Rosa'.US

RED BEAUT-Early season. A medium sized, bright red skinned, yellow fleshed plum without a great deal of flavor. Readily available in the markets as one of  the first plums of the season, so it is better to leave this cultivar to the commercial growers.US, NZ.

SANTA ROSA-Early season. Introduced by Luther Birbank in 1907. S.R. is a medium large, crimson to purplish red, lightly freckled plum with yellow flesh slightly suffused with pink especially near the pit. The fruit is firm, sweet, juicy, and aromatic, except near the pit, where it is quite acid. The tree is widely adapted, partly self fertile (sets fruit without a pollenizer, but sets a lot more with one), and the tree is hardy, vigorous, and highly productive. S.R. is a very important commercial cultivar and readily available in the supermarket. Nevertheless, it's very good flavor, self fertility, and importance as a pollenizer makes it a very good choice for the home garden. USA NZ AU

WILSON'S EARLY-Early season. One of the earliest plums to ripen, but the bright red yellow fleshed fruit are small and tend to biennial bearing. 'Doris'  and 'Mariposa' are likely to have the best flowering overlap with WE. NZ

BURBANK-Early mid season. Burbank plums are medium sized, bright red mottled yellow, and have deep yellow flesh of very good flavor. The trees are partially self fertile, and often set extremely heavily, which can lead to fungal disease such as brown rot spreading quickly, and can cause biennial bearing. The trees are low growing, flat topped, and with drooping limbs. Burbank trees tolerate more cold than some of the other Japanese cultivars. 'Beauty', 'Methley', 'Santa Rosa' and 'Duff's Early Jewel' act as pollinizers. US NZ AU

BLACKAMBER-Early season. Friar x Queen Rosa. A particularly large plum, with very firm flesh. The skin is black, and the flesh is, as it's name suggests, amber. In climates with less heat, it is often acidic at maturity. It is not suited to humid climates either, as it is suceptible to bacterial diseases. The pit is small. B.A. is an important commercial cultivar in Western USA. Pollenizer is "Santa Rosa'. US, NZ.

FORTUNE - Early season. Breeding is Laroda x [Queen Anne x Late Santa Rosa], introduced 1988. Medium to large fruit with bright red and yellow skin, and yellow very firm flesh suffused with pink. Flavour is perfumed, sweetness is moderate to good. It is semi-freestone. The tree is adaptable, vigorous and upright. Pollenized by 'Santa Rosa'.

EL DORADO-Early mid season. A large, oblong, dark reddish black fruit with amber flesh. The flesh is firm, rather lacking in juiciness, moderately sweet, but without marked flavor. It has a very good shelf life, and holds it's shape when it is cooked. The tree is particularly upright in growth.An important commercial cultivar. US

SULTAN-Early mid season. A medium to large red fleshed, deep red skinned plum that is soft and juicy and has good flavor. It bears heavily on a rather low, spreading tree. It comes into bearing early, and is reliable. Pollenizer are 'Doris' and 'Duff's Early Jewel, altho' some say it is self fertile. Recommended for it's small size, very good dessert qualities, and reliability. NZ

DORIS-Midseason. Doris is a medium sized red skinned yellow fleshed plum that is sweet and with good flavor. It is pollenized by 'Duff's Early Jewel' and 'Mariposa' (altho' fruit set is not as good with 'Mariposa').US, NZ.

FRIAR-Midseason. Breeding is Gaviota x Nubiana, introduced 1968. A large oval plum, deep black with light amber flesh, Friar is a freestone and the pit is very small relative to the size of the fruit. Friar is sweet and juicy when fully mature, with an acidulous skin. When not fully tree ripened it is disappointing. Friar is is a regular and heavy bearer. 'Santa Rosa' and it's variations is the main pollenizer. The tree is vigorous and upright. The fruit keep well and Friar has become one of the most important commercial cultivars in the Western USA. US

HAWERA-Midseason. A large, very dark red skin and flesh 'blood plum', found as a chance seedling by the roadside in Hawera, New Zealand. The freestone fruit are sweet, juicy and very firm fleshed. Probably self fertile, or partially self fertile. 'Santa Rosa' is known to pollinate it. An excellent all round home garden tree.NZ.

LARODA-Midseason. A large cone shaped plum with dark red to purple skin.The flesh is transluscent yellow, and light red just under the thin and tender skin.It develops an intense flavor when it is cooked 'skin on'. The flesh is sweet, firm and aromatic, with good flavor, although the flavor declines with time if it is stored too long. The tree is very upright, well spurred, and vigorous.An important commercial variety. US

NUBIANA-Midseason. A large, reddish purple, almost black plum with amber yellow, moderately sweet and pleasantly flavored flesh. Nubiana is self fertile.US

PURPLE KING-Midseason. This large fruit has purplish red skin and excellent flavored yellow flesh tinged wine red near the stone.P.K. is a very vigorous tree, but must have a pollenizer-'Sultan', 'Doris', or 'Duff's Early Jewel'. NZ

QUEEN ROSA-Midseason. Q.R. is a very large, lightly freckled purple-crimson plum with greeny-yellow shoulders. The flesh is amber, very juicy, sweetest just under the skin, but otherwise rather lacking in flavor. A biennial bearer. A commercial cultivar.US

SATSUMA -Mid season. A small to medium sized fruit with solid deep red skin and flesh and the small pit is semi freestone. Satsuma is juicy, and it has a particularly good flavor. The tree is an upright grower. 'Methley', 'Santa Rosa' and 'Beauty' will pollenize Satsuma. US NZ AU
SHIRO - Mid season. A medium to large round yellow plum (sometimes with a pink blush). It is pleasantly sweet and juicy albeit without marked flavor, and a clingstone. The tree are spreading rather than upright, and productive - 'Methley', and  'Santa Rosa'' will pollenize 'Shiro', and 'Shiro' will pollenize both. US NZ
SIMKA-syn 'New Yorker'. Mid season. A large, conic, dark reddish purple plum with lightly freckled skin characteristic of plums derived from 'Santa Rosa'. The flesh is firm, yellowish white, and pleasantly sweet, slightly bitter near the skin. The tree is medium sized, and holds it's fruit well at maturity. Simka is largely self fertile. An important commercial cultivar in Western USA. US

STARKING® DELICIOUSTM-syn. 'Johnson'. Mid to late season.A large, dark red, deep red fleshed clingstone plum. The flesh is quite dense and has good acid levels, so it makes very good jelly/jam and is good for canning/bottling, albeit a clingstone. The tree is relatively cold hardy, productive, and disease resistant. Pollenized by 'Redheart'.US

ANGELENO-Late season.A very late large reddish purple skinned plum with light amber flesh and a moderately sweet flavor if fully ripened. Angelenos' particular claim to fame is it's extremely good keeping quality, and thus it has become an  importatant end of season commercial cultivar.US

BLACK DORIS-Late season. Medium to large very dark black purple fruit with dark red flesh, B.D. is a vigorous, upright tree. Pollinator is 'Duff's Early Jewel'.NZ

CASSELMAN-Late season. A large conic bright red blushed plum with  light yellow freckling derived from the cultivar 'Late Santa Rosa'. The yellow flesh is firm and sweet with some acidity. The upright tree is partly self fertile (sets fruit without a pollinator, but sets a lot more with one)'Redheart' is likely to be a pollenizer. An important commercial cultivar in Western USA. US

ELEPHANT HEART-Late season. Introduced by Luther Burbank in 1929, unknown parentage. A large, dark reddish purple conic fruit with purple-red sweet, juicy flesh of very good to excellent flavor. It is a freestone, and useful for fresh eating and canning/bottling. In the prescence of its preferred pollenizers 'Laroda', 'Redheart', or 'Santa Rosa it bears well'. In their absence, it bears poorly. It is somewhat suceptible to bacterial diseases, so may need more dormant spraying in humid areas. US NZ

GEORGE WILSON-syn. 'Omega'. Late season.A large, dark red skinned, firm red fleshed plum of very good flavor, very good storeage ability, and regular heavy crops. Pollenizers are 'Duff's Early Jewel' and 'Santa Rosa'.NZ AU

KELSEY-Late season. This is a striking plum carried on an unusual tree. The plum is large, heart shaped, green to yellow with a reddish blush. The flesh is bright yellow, firm, and juicy, with a particularly small pit. The fruit need to be left on the tree to ripen fully, when they become very sweet. They can, however, be picked green and stored in the refrigerator for several weeks where they will ripen slowly. The leaves of the medium sized, upright, 'Kelsey' tree are narrow and willow-like, and the bark is gray.Pollenizers are 'Santa Rosa', 'Beauty', and 'Wickson'. US
As climate warms, it becomes important to think about varieties that will flower well with a minimum of winter chilling. The following varieties have low chill requirements (around 400 hours or so) -
'Beauty Burgundy', 'Delight', 'Friar', 'Howard Miracle', 'Kelsey', 'Mariposa', 'Meredith', 'Methley', 'Santa Rosa', 'Satsuma', and 'Sprite'.

PIPESTONE-Outstandingly cold hardy, this attractive golden blushed red plum has yellow flesh, and is sweet and juicy. Pollenized by 'Toka'. US

TOKA-A medium-sized yellow/orange plum, with rich flavor and very cold hardy. US

BOUNTY - Prunus nigra (native North American plum) Late season. The dark red, egg-shaped fruit, small fruit have  tough and astringent skin, orange-yellow, juicy, but sour flesh. Bounty is good only for preserves. But the tree is hardy and productive. US

DANDY - Prunus nigra (native North American plum) Late season. The small fruit are thin skinned, yellow blushed with red, with yellow flesh. The fruit are mild and juicy. The spreading tree, is both very hardy, and productive. US

IVANOVKA -Prunus salicina The small green fruit are mottled with purplish blue, the flesh is  yellow to pink, and are good for fresh eating. US

PTITSIN SELECTIONS - #5, #9, #10 -Prunus salicina Small greenish yellow fruits that are acceptable fresh eating. US

PATTERSON PRIDE -P. nigra x P.salicina Late season. A deep red plum small to medium sized, of very good quality. Up to 5 cm, deep red in color. The tree is small, with a weeping habit, so well suited to small gardens.US

PEMBINA, ACME, ELITE and PRAIRIE-P. nigra x P.salicina  are all more or less similar to 'Patterson Pride'. US

MANOR -prunus besseyi x prunus sp. Early season (for colder climates). The small plums are dark, almost black, and is good eating quality. A bushy Prunus. US

OPATA -prunus besseyi x prunus sp A bluish-green skinned plum with green, sweet,  flesh and a small pit. 'Opata' is a bushy Prunus. US

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