A rather small family, widely distributed, trees or shrubs, the bark exuding gum, the foliage, bark, and seeds bitter, containing prussic acid; leaves alternate, toothed, with leaf-stalks; stipules small; flowers mostly perfect, regular, single or in clusters; calyx five-lobed, dropping off after flowering; petals five, inserted on the calyx; stamens numerous, inserted with the petals; pistil one in our genera; ovary superior, developing into a stone-fruit.

There are many kinds of Prunus, including Cherry as well as Plum, with white or pink flowers and usually edible fruits. Prunus is the ancient Latin name for plum.