The Varieties of Plums Derived From Native American Species



Source of Digital Item

National Agricultural Library


The development from the wild condition and the introduction into cultivation of the varieties of plums enumerated in the following pages have taken place within the last hundred years, much the larger proportion even within the past fifty years. For various reasons many of the varieties never attained more than a local reputation, while others did not remain long in general cultivation. There are sections of the country where selection must be exercised even with native species in order to secure a tree of sufficient hardiness to withstand the strain of increased production when placed under cultivation. Some are lacking in the quality of the fruit, others are too susceptible to fungous troubles to make them profitable, while doubtless many have been tried in regions adapted to the growing of varieties of Old World species, where the natives proved disappointing in comparison. Nevertheless, in other sections the natives will probably be the main dependence, either as pure species or as hybrids with Old World forms.

No other native North American fruit, with the exception of the grape, has given rise to so many varieties as the plum. Not all of these have been derived from the same wild species, and the varieties belonging to a given form are mainly the ones best adapted to the region in which the parent species is native. A knowledge of the botanical affinities of a given variety is therefore a matter of much importance to both the nurseryman and orchardist, and for this reason the attempt has been made to identify each variety with its species. This has been done either by a study of material or by means of such descriptions as exist in horticultural literature in the case of varieties no longer known to be in cultivation or of which it has been impracticable for any other reason to secure material.

These pages also constitute a record of achievement in American pomology with a fruit the importance of which was long overlooked and the value of which, even at the present time, is recognized by comparatively few. Information is brought together concerning the parentage when known, and a record is made of the work of those who have concerned themselves with the improvement of this fruit. With few fruits is there an equal opportunity to record step by step the advance which has been made since the original of the first-named variety was brought from its wild thicket and planted in a garden.


The Varieties of Plums Derived From Native American Species