Plum, the name of wild and cultivated species and varieties of trees of the genus prunus, and their fruit.' Formerly our cultivated stone fruits were distributed in three or four different genera, but the highest botanical authorities now bring the almond, peach, apricot, plum, and cherry all under the genus prunus, while the Smith's Orleans, Washington, Du-ane's purple, etc, seem suited to a northern climate; and the imperial gage, Coe's golden drop, and Huling's superb are better suited to a southern. The plum will grow well in almost any soil, but with some exceptions heavy loams and earths abounding in clay seem best. Muck from salt-water marshes and from docks has been found very serviceable. Common salt promotes the health and luxuriance of the tree. - The plum is liable to a singular disease, known as the black wart, which, seizing upon the young branches, ends by destroying them. Its origin has been attributed to insects, which it sometimes harbors, but it is due to a small fungus, sphmria morbosa. The only remedy is to cut and burn the affected branches. The plum weevil is the conotrache-lus nenuphar, a small dark gray beetle, about one fourth of an inch long, best known as the curculio.
The female deposits her eggs in young plums, peaches, and other fruit, making a crescent-shaped incision in the skin; hence the insect is often called the "little Turk." The egg produces a grub which, feeding on the fruit, causes it to fall; the grub enters the earth, and in three weeks appears as a perfect beetle; the insect winters in the perfect state. So destructive is it that large trees will have every plum killed, and in many localities the culture has been abandoned. The best preventive discovered is shaking the trees daily for a few weeks and catching the beetles in outspread sheets, when they must be killed. The fallen plums should be also carefully gathered and destroyed. - The uses of the plum are for dessert, for preserving, and for drying to make prunes. In France several distinct sorts are raised expressly to manufacture into prunes, the most prominent among which are the quetsche (known here as German prune), St. Catharine, Brignolles, and others. The fruits are not gathered until the sun has dried off the dews; they are then picked by hand and spread in shallow baskets, which are kept in a cool and dry place; when they have become soft, they are shut up close in spent ovens and left for 24 hours; they are then taken out and replaced after the ovens have been slightly reheated.
On the next day they are taken out and turned by slightly shaking the sieves on which they have been laid. The ovens are heated again, and they are put in a third time; and after remaining 24 hours they are taken out and left to get quite cold. After some manipulation they are submitted to oven heat twice more, and then packed into boxes or jars for sale. The finer kinds of prunes only receive this treatment; for the common sorts the fruit is shaken from the trees, dried with less care, and roughly packed in casks. A kind of dried plum is prepared at Brignolles in France, and bears the name of the place; it has the skin removed before drying, and the stone afterward. From the bruised pulp of plums and the kernels ferment-with honev and flour, and the mass distilled, a spirit is obtained in the south of France.
G20 in the tribe prunem, of the order rosacea or rose family. The genus consists of trees or shrubs with simple, toothed leaves; calyx with a bell-shaped tube and a five-lobed limb; petals five, spreading; stamens numerous, on the throat of the calyx; ovary one, free, with two ovules; fruit a fleshy drupe with a hard stone, with one seed (rarely two). This description applies to all the stone fruits. The group of species recognized as plums' have white flowers, a smooth fruit, generally with a whitish bloom upon its surface, and a flat or flattish stone; some of our native species are, so far as botanical characters go, very close to cherries. Of the half dozen native plums, only three are generally known. The beach plum, P. maritima, is found along the coast from Maine to the gulf of Mexico, and is everywhere a low straggling shrub from 2 to 5 ft. high, with stout branches; it is found growing in clumps in the blowing sands of the shore, and often extends inland some 20 m. The oval or ovate leaves are thickish, serrate, smooth above and downy underneath; the fruit is globular, from half an inch to an inch in diameter, crimson or purple, with a distinct bloom; stone very turgid, acute at one edge and rounded and minutely grooved upon the other.
This is a variable species, forms of which have received different names; at a distance from the sea the leaves are thinner and smoother and the fruit smaller; the fruit is ripe in September, and usually pleasant to the taste, but sometimes astringent; it is collected in considerable quantities for making preserves, and is sometimes to be found in the markets of seaboard cities. The wild yellow or red plum, P. Americana, also called the Canada plum, grows from Canada to Texas, and in some localities is very common. It is a showy tree 8 to 20 ft. high, with a round head; its ovate leaves are conspicuously pointed, thin, very veiny, coarsely or . doubly serrate and smooth when old; the fruit is globular or somewhat oval, one half to two thirds of an inch in.diameter, yellow, orange, or red, and with scarcely any bloom; the turgid stone somewhat acute on both edges; the pulp juicy and pleasant, but the skin very tough and acerb. The tree is sometimes seen in cultivation, when the fruit is larger and the stone flatter with broader margins. The seeds of this species are used by nurserymen to raise stocks upon which to graft the finer kinds of cultivated plums.
The Chickasaw plum, P. Chicasa, is probably indigenous only in the southwestern states, but has become naturalized in various localities at the east and north; it is said to have been introduced into the southern Atlantic states by the Indians, and it has been more or less cultivated since the country was first settled. The tree is from 6 to 12 ft. high, less thorny than the preceding, and has long and narrow acute leaves with very fine serratures; the globular fruit is one half to two thirds of an inch in diameter, red, and almost without bloom; the stone is ovoid, nearly as thick as wide, without any margin, but having both edges rounded and one of them minutely grooved; the skin of the fruit is thin and the flavor pleasant. This species is variable in both the wild and cultivated state; owing to the difficulty of cultivating the varieties of the European plum, on account of the attacks of the curculio, much attention has been given of late years to the improved varieties of the Chickasaw, and several named sorts are offered by nurserymen; among these the wild goose, said to have been raised from a stone found in the crop of a wild goose, is the most prominent, and there are others for which great superiority is claimed. - The European plum has its origin surrounded by the same obscurity that attends other cultivated fruits; it has been attributed to prunus domes-tica, but probably this and the bullace plum (P. insititia) are forms produced by long cultivation from the sloe or blackthorn (P. spi-nosa), a common tree or shrub in the old world, and sparingly introduced here.
It is a much-branched, and in its wild state very thorny shrub, bearing small, globular, black, and astringent fruit. The finer kinds of garden plums are found to vary greatly from each other in the size of foliage, earlier or later blossoming, size and shape of the fruits, and in the smoothness or downiness as well as vigor of their young shoots. A large number of choice sorts have originated in the United States, and while many are larger and more showy, none are superior to the green gage, the best of all plums. Those known as the Lombard, red gage, golden drop, etc, with all the damsons, bear fruit well in sandy soils;
Green Gage Plum.
Quetsche Plum, or German Prune.