Botanist's Glossary

Plum - Prunus domestica

  • Description
    • Cultivated plum trees, originally from the region of Caucasus, are derived from ancient crosses between the myrobalan plum (or cherry plum), Prunus cerasifera (Balkans, west Asia) and the sloe tree, Prunus spinosa (Europe, south-west Siberia). Latin civilizations were already familiar with several varieties, and these still exist today, with an even greater presence. Plum trees have often become more or less wild in rural areas.
  • Traditions
    • Ever since ancient times, dried plums (prunes) have been renowned for their laxative properties. Plum kernel oil has been used in similar ways to sweet almond oil, particularly for cosmetic purposes. From the 16th to 19th century, plums were the specialty of the town of Brignoles (in the Var region of France) and declared to be "highly renowned and healthy to eat". "Pistoles" from Brignoles – plums opened and flattened before being left to dry – were widely sold. Under the Ancien Régime, the parliament of Provence would go to Brignoles to obtain boxes of these delicacies.
  • Properties
    • Plum oil has moisturizing, softening and remineralizing properties, which makes it ideal for dry skin. The scent of plums is also used in perfumery for its sweet aroma.