What's this? Plum, Asian something or other?


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Hey all! I've had these trees since we bought our place. One of the toughest trees. It grows a small plum looking fruit. They're small this year,.. which can increase in size and 4 x quantity if I dare water it. Which I haven't done at all this year. No real measurable rain since mid spring and not a drop all summer + a 116* heat wave and steady 90*+ that never burned a leaf on it when others scorched. Single digit winters or heavy snow never hurt it either. It takes a licking' and keeps on tickin'!

They do seed easily. We've had some big ones in the past and I took them out becasue of too much fruit on the ground. I wanted to relocate some small ones to a better location since my wife loves eating them.

They have serious thorns!! The younger growth is 1-2" but on the older areas they can be 6+ inches long! I took those trees out becasue there were too many close calls at eye level and I got one though the side of my neck once when I bent over to pick up my glove. Duh! That was enough to wake a guy up real quick.

I was wondering if anyone could identify this tree? Is it a cherry or a plum? I've heard both answers from people who weren't sure. They can blush pink on the sunny side sometimes, firm enough fruit but when you bite into them they're extremely juicy like an over ripe tomato, mellow flavor but sweet, skin's are more on the tart side but not bad. I can't remember the name now, but was told they were an Asian or some kind of Oriental Plum and uncommon to find in markets these days. I keep wanting to say 'cherry' becasue I remember being surprised saying, "What? Really?" I thought they were a......? It's been 10 yrs so it's vague which was which now and the friend who said she knew exactly what they were has passed away. I remember her saying they used to be popular long time ago and were very expensive in the day. But newer varieties pushed them out. I really don't know for certain, just repeating what I heard. My other neighbor makes wine from them, it's very good. :cool:
 

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This is one of several types of plum generally known as a yellow cherry-plum. That is all I can say with certainty.

It is probably a yellow-fruited Myrobalan Cherry-Plum (Prunus cerasifera), since this tree is more likely to produce thorns. I would like to see a good photo of those thorns. They do sound exceptionally long for a plum. There are plums known for having particularly fierce thorns (Prunus americana, P. spinosa), but the fruit doesn't look right for those species.

There are also several closely related forms of European plums that resemble your tree, including the Mirabelle Cherry-Plum (Prunus domestica ssp. syriaca) and the Spilling Cherry-Plum (Prunus domestica ssp. pomariorum). There are also many cultivars and hybrids involving these plums. Prunus domestica is likely a hexaploid descendent of Prunus cerasifera, so there is a close relationship there.

There are also yellow-fruited cultivars of the Japanese Plum (Prunus salicina), but these do not so closely resemble your tree's fruit.
 
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This is one of several types of plum generally known as a yellow cherry-plum. That is all I can say with certainty.

It is probably a yellow-fruited Myrobalan Cherry-Plum (Prunus cerasifera), since this tree is more likely to produce thorns. I would like to see a good photo of those thorns. They do sound exceptionally long for a plum. There are plums known for having particularly fierce thorns (Prunus americana, P. spinosa), but the fruit doesn't look right for those species.

There are also several closely related forms of European plums that resemble your tree, including the Mirabelle Cherry-Plum (Prunus domestica ssp. syriaca) and the Spilling Cherry-Plum (Prunus domestica ssp. pomariorum). There are also many cultivars and hybrids involving these plums. Prunus domestica is likely a hexaploid descendent of Prunus cerasifera, so there is a close relationship there.

There are also yellow-fruited cultivars of the Japanese Plum (Prunus salicina), but these do not so closely resemble your tree's fruit.

Well, cherry-plum might explain why I can't recall whether it was one or the other and got confused. Ha!

Sure, gladly take a photo. It's dark out now, but I'll see if I can get a few good pics for you tomorrow.

Another thing that might help or nothing at all,.. the more ripe the fruit gets the more translucent it becomes, maybe because they're a light color? The ones in the pics are what I'd call average ripeness and not as large orr full becasue I didn't water it. If you look closely at the photo even though it's in a low lit room you can kind of tell how the light is going into the fruit, like hazey glass. The more ripe they get the more you see it. Pretty in its own way, especially when the sun is low from the opposing side That's why I said they were juicy like an over ripe tomato - cherry tomato - the ripest ones are delicious but they can explode when you bite them. Just don't smile when you do it.
 
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This is one of several types of plum generally known as a yellow cherry-plum. That is all I can say with certainty.

It is probably a yellow-fruited Myrobalan Cherry-Plum (Prunus cerasifera), since this tree is more likely to produce thorns. I would like to see a good photo of those thorns. They do sound exceptionally long for a plum. There are plums known for having particularly fierce thorns (Prunus americana, P. spinosa), but the fruit doesn't look right for those species.

There are also several closely related forms of European plums that resemble your tree, including the Mirabelle Cherry-Plum (Prunus domestica ssp. syriaca) and the Spilling Cherry-Plum (Prunus domestica ssp. pomariorum). There are also many cultivars and hybrids involving these plums. Prunus domestica is likely a hexaploid descendent of Prunus cerasifera, so there is a close relationship there.

There are also yellow-fruited cultivars of the Japanese Plum (Prunus salicina), but these do not so closely resemble your tree's fruit.
Sorry took me so long, works been in the way. They start out green, super strong, wide and stout and then lengthen over time. Some stay small and harden while others keep growing like a branch and then harden even more later. About 6-7" or so is the longest I see and the bigger ones are comparable to a chicken kabob stick - they do not break easily. They're so stiff they can cut your hand if you're not careful when breaking one off. They go through gloves easily.. On old growth, they can be short, long, wide or narrow. I called them thorns, for the lack of a better word but I doubt they're true thorns. Feel free to correct me there.:) You can see they aren't typically perfectly straight (though some are) and they have little nodules on them from when they grew that fall off as they age. All I know is they're painful and can be dangerous when picking - they blend in well. This was the smallest tree of them all - the last one remaining I didn't cut down. I'd cut off most of the big fat long ones off already, but I did find a skinnier one I'd missed. There was a better one up higher that I couldn't reach. I took a photo, but can't get it to load on the page. Hard to focus the camera on this littler one, it looks skinnier than it is becasue it's blurry. Phone's auto focus was fighting me.
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Here's a short green one that's growing, it had a few tiny leaves but I brushed them off...
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If you follow the leads of the tree up, look close and they become more apparent and you realize how many there are where they haven't been cut off. These are newer, mostly 2,3&4", some bigger... actually there's one to the top left there pointing downward at a 45* angle, long and straight. That's a decent one I didn't notice. They're not all one direction either. so makes it harder to navigate around. The one in the top middle of the pic also (makes an X with the other one in front of it) going to the right is a good example of a fatter one developing, it'll be beefy when it's full grown. It's blurry, but you can still see strong pointed ends.
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I highlighted these with a line beside them to spot them easier.... you can see the one that makes the X, and its pointed end.

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Some stay short like these. Look at that bark pattern. The lines and shades look almost a reptilian texture in photos, it's interesting. The tree itself is soft and bends easily. The wood's beautifully colorful when cut and cures surprisingly hard. Leaning in to pick, the tree will often bow or bend to your weight. If you get caught off balance that's when you get ran through.

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Thank you for posting. These are good pictures of the thorns or thorn-tipped branches.

I have found some references to Cherry-plum (Prunus cerasifera) having such thorns, though it seems like it is a variable trait because the cultivated purple-leaved cherry-plums do not seem to develop thorns like that.

There is a related species called Blackthorn or Sloe (Prunus spinosa) that seems to almost always have thorns like this, but I have not heard of it having yellow fruit. Sloe Gin is coloured and flavoured with dark red sloe plums.

The flowers are also different on the two species P. cerasifera has reflexed sepals and larger flowers than P. spinosa which also has spreading sepals. Perhaps your tree is a hybrid.
 
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Joined
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Gales Creek, Ore
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Thank you for posting. These are good pictures of the thorns or thorn-tipped branches.

I have found some references to Cherry-plum (Prunus cerasifera) having such thorns, though it seems like it is a variable trait because the cultivated purple-leaved cherry-plums do not seem to develop thorns like that.

There is a related species called Blackthorn or Sloe (Prunus spinosa) that seems to almost always have thorns like this, but I have not heard of it having yellow fruit. Sloe Gin is coloured and flavoured with dark red sloe plums.

The flowers are also different on the two species P. cerasifera has reflexed sepals and larger flowers than P. spinosa which also has spreading sepals. Perhaps your tree is a hybrid.
My pleasure,.. whatever I can contribute. It does sound like it could be a hybrid. I really appreciate the feedback, I've learned a lot. Thank you!

My neighbor's free-roaming cats likes to come over and kill our nesting birds,.. always such a shame. We jokingly say well that tree's kind of cat resistant,.. but we've yet to see a bird take advantage and nest in one. Ha! There is the very rare insect hole now and then, like in that one photo. But the birds won't touch them, the tree's never gotten any kind of fungus when most other neighboring fruit trees where hit hard. And incest's are so rare it's not worth mentioning. So we never spray them or anything and 99% of them are pristine. Though the squirrels love the pits, when they fall to the ground. My wife's car wouldn't start once, I found the air filter housing and the intake had been filled with pits - busy little criiter. Despite the pokies, they've been bullet proof trees with zero maintenance. That and the fruit, makes it worth it. The wife loves them, so I score points there. Thanks everybody!!
 
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