Damson: Prunus institia

There are several types of Plum, of which the Damson is the smallest, rarely much more than 2.5cm (1 in) long. When the fruit first ripens, its flesh is usually green and rather bitter, but if left to ripen fully, when the flesh is yellower, it becomes much sweeter and can be eaten straight from the tree.

One of the traditional ways of growing Damsons was to plant them in a hedgerow. Here, they didn’t take up any garden space and their thorny, suckering habit contributed to the efficacy of the hedge. They can still be grown in this way. Perhaps even a whole row of them, which will provide an effective windbreak. Normally, Damsons are grown in the garden just like any other fruit tree.

Plant out nursery-grown stock during fine weather, from the Autumn until the Spring. Container-grown trees are best planted at the same time, but they can be planted at any time as long as they are kept watered.

English: Ripe damsons on branch.

Image via Wikipedia

Little pruning is needed, except removing dead or awkward branches.

Damson trees are hardy and will come through most Winters, but because they flower early, late frosts may kill the blossom.

Plums generally prefer a slightly alkaline soil, but Damsons will also grow on a slightly acid soil. However, they are not too happy on light soils that dry out rapidly. Plant out nursery-grown stock during fine weather, from the Autumn until the Spring. Container-grown trees are best planted at the same time, but they can be planted at any time as long as they are kept watered.

Little pruning is needed, except removing dead or awkward branches.

Damson trees are hardy and will come through most Winters, but because they flower early, late frosts may kill the blossom.

Plums generally prefer a slightly alkaline soil, but Damsons will also grow on a slightly acid soil. However, they are not too happy on light soils that dry out rapidly.

This fruit makes a delicious, dark-coloured jam and has also long been used in the country for making wine. The somewhat tart taste can be exploited in a wide range of desserts, including crumbles and pies. They can also be preserved by freezing or bottling.

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