English Plums, 1829

The plum appears to be still more widely diffused in its original locality than the apricot; and it is much more prone to run into varieties. It is a native of Asia, and of many parts for of Europe, and even grows wild in the hedges in some parts of Britain. The plant is the very apt to run underground, and produce suckers from the roots. Plums of various sorts appear to have been introduced into England as early as the 15th century. These varieties came to us from France and Italy. Two examples are the greengage of France (called a gage in England after the name of the family who first cultivated it here). Lord Cromwell introduced several plums from Italy in the time of Henry VII. The damson, or damascene, as its name implies, is from Damascus.

In some countries a considerable quantity of alcohol is produced from plums and a cherries by fermentation. Dried plums form a large article of Commerce, under the name of prunes and French plums.

There are nearly three hundred varieties of plums, many of which are perhaps only dissimilar in name. The Washington, a modern variety, which has richness of flavour, beauty, and other good qualities is curious in its origin. The parent tree was purchased in the market of New York, sometime at the end of the last century. It remained barren and several years later the trunk was struck to the earth and destroyed during a violent thunderstorm. The root after wards threw out a number of vigorous shoots, all of which were allowed to remain, and finally produced fruit. In 1821 several trees were sent to the Horticultural Society by Dr. Hossack.

The article above was taken from "A Description and History of Vegetable Substances used in the Arts and in Domestic Economy published by Charles Knight, London, 1829.

Nigel Deacon, Diversity website.

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