Identification: Plums, small single pink or white round fluffy trees, blooming early

Discussion in 'Ornamental Cherries' started by wcutler, Apr 6, 2007.

  1. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    This is not a question, but comments and corrections are very welcome.

    I’m attaching some plum photos, as many people refer to these trees as cherries. They’re Prunus cerasifera, that is, myrobalan (cherry plum), and they are just about the first colour to appear on Vancouver BC city streets. [Edited Feb 21, 2008 - So that's wrong - This year I notice that the Whitcomb cherries are now getting colourful, while the plums have hardly started to bud - wcutler]. They’re on very many of the streets, often alternating with cherry trees. They have small single blossoms, either white or pink, have either bronze or green leaves appearing with the blossoms, are fragrant, usually do not have horizontal striping on their bark, and the flowers hang on solitary stems, not in groups of two or three like cherries. An inquiry about these trees on another forum mentioned how ubiquitous they are and how striking they look with their almost black bark against the light fluffy blossoms.
     

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    Last edited: Feb 21, 2008
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Re: Plums, small single pink of white round fluffy trees, blooming early

    The pale pink ones are 'Pissardii' and the more decidedly pink ones are the 'Nigra' type. I said "type" because there is more than one cultivar of this ilk. While 'Nigra' is used for such forms in BC (and UK) down here we have 'Krauter's Vesuvius' and 'Thundercloud' in hyper-abundance.

    There are also thousands of specimens of purpleleaf plums of hybrid origin, such as 'Newport' and P. X blireiana.
     
  3. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Re: Plums, small single pink of white round fluffy trees, blooming early

    Here are photos of the buds, a good time to identify plums, as they look quite different from cherries at this stage, with their buds sticking out bristle-like on single stems.
    20080304_Barclay_Plum_Cutler_0025.jpg 20080304_Barclay_Plum_Cutler_0029.jpg

    And what I said last year about them having single blossoms isn't always the case - I think this is a plum blossom, even though the tree has horizontal striping on the bark.
    20080306_Bute_Plum_Cutler_0079.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2008
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    The double is Prunus x blireiana, another very common one - this time a hybrid between P. cerasifera 'Pissardii' and P. mume. Check UBC or other library for Jacobson, PURPLELEAF PLUMS (Timber Press) if you want to try learning these.

    http://www.arthurleej.com/a-PurpleleafPlumTrees.html
     
  5. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Here's the tree, and you can see an unscrolling plum leaf in the photo. Douglas told us this is characteristic of plums, whereas cherries unfold their leaves.
    20080312_Bute_Plum_Cutler_0233.jpg 20080312_Bute_Plum_Cutler_0235.jpg

    There are more plum photos in the Plums thread in the Neighbourhood Blogs.
     
  6. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    These pictures, taken at 57th and Oak Street in Vancouver on 14 March, shows the rootstock of a purple-leaf plum (the scion apparently dead and cut back) growing strongly from the base of the tree. Note the unrolling leaves and flowers that are all single (5-petalled) and borne directly from the branch (not on an inflorescence, as in cherries).

    The rootstock is either a seedling or (more likely) a clonal understock of Prunus cerasifera (i.e., the wild species). Clonal rootstocks (for grafting apples, pears, cherries, plums, etc.) are produced by a specialized layering technique known as "stooling". Speaking of stooling, the largest producer of clonal fruit and ornamental tree understocks in this area, Trass Nursery in Langley, BC, is evidently going to close up shop this year. I've visited this nursery many times with horticulture classes over the years and we've always been impressed with the scale of the operation and the innovative methods employed. I'm sure this will be a significant blow to local nurseries, as the importation of understocks from outside of Canada is fraught with problems (especially plant health issues and shipping expenses).

    On the other hand, I can only hope that this signals the end of commercial ornamental cherry tree grafting. Most cherries are better off growing on their own roots. Own-root trees have fewer disease problems and often look less uniform, as they tend to produce more widely spaced, low branches, which I consider a good thing for residential applications. Production time will certainly be increased: a grafted tree is generally sold in a garden centre when it's two years old, whereas a tree from a rooted cutting might take four or five years to reach the same size.
     

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    Last edited: Mar 16, 2008
  7. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    More buds photos, showing the lollipops on the branches, so characteristic of plums but not cherries.

    Ron B mentioned to me a plant key in which the presence or absence of a terminal bud is used as a starting point for splitting cherries and plums (plums do not have a terminal bud). I'll have to look more closely - I find that hard to see, even when I do manage to capture several branch ends, as in this photo. In some of the plum photos posted here and there, I see leaves at the end of the branch.
     

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  8. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Notice the last one shown has the mostly solitary flowers of a cherry plum. Since the last double one shown - the one before Douglas' post - is rather light pink and on a more arborescent, arching tree it would not knock me over if it turned out to be Prunus x blireiana 'Moseri'. Identification keys in Purpleleaf Plums (1992 Timber Press Inc.) split the flowers of these two this way

    20-24 petals, deep pink = 'Blireiana'*
    13-17 petals, pale pink = 'Moseri'

    and the leaves this way

    Less hairy, usually more than 76 mm long = 'Moseri'
    Hairier, usually less than 76 mm long = 'Blireiana'

    *Note that Purpleleaf Plums fashions the name this way, rather than as P. x blireiana, with the other cultivar being listed as P. x blireiana 'Moseri'.
     
  9. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I saw a plum in Seattle that had the stems in bunches rather than just single on the branches, and here's one in Vancouver, on Kaslo north of 15th. These definitely appear to be growing two to a bunch. But I can tell they're plums because the leaves are unfurling instead of unfolding.
     

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  10. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Prunus salicina cultivar or hybrid involving that species. See p. 347, Trees of Seattle - Second Edition (2006 Arthur Lee Jacobson).
     
  11. Joseph Lin

    Joseph Lin Active Member 10 Years

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    How to differentiate Prunus salicina from wild Prunus cerasifera?
     
  12. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    The Prunus cerasifera don't have stems in bunches but stick straight out singly from the branches. I don't have anything to support this statement, but what led me to guess this one was that the stems are in bunches of two or three.
     
  13. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Both produce multiple blooms on the spur shoots.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2010
  14. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Purpleleaf Plums (1992 Timber Press) says (p. 69) that strongly reflexed sepals indicate a Prunus cerasifera involvement, either that the tree is a pure P. cerasifera or that it has that species in its hybrid parentage.
     
  15. bgboydballard

    bgboydballard Member

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    Re: Yama-zakura - mid-season, single usually white

    From Bill Boyd, at Loyal Heights in Seattle [edited by wcutler: Bill mistakenly sent photos of plums, so I'm posting them here] (April 16 2012) only scarce blossoms remain. Attached photos show 2 trees, one intact blossom, and leaf structure
     

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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2012
  16. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    These plums are near the Prunus jamasakura planting at that location, that's probably one of the cherries sticking into the picture on the left.
     

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