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Prunus cerasifera - cherry or myrobalan plum

The cherry or myrobalan plum is grown throughout Europe and has also long been grown in Finland, since the 1800s in the Turku area. However, most of the trees we see nowadays have grown from the surviving root stock of cherry or plum varieties which have died.

The cherry plum is covered with blossom in spring and if pollination is successful it produces a crop of edible, sometimes even delicious fruit. It makes a thorny multi-stemmed shrub or small tree which produces root suckers. The branches are shiny, with no hairiness. The abundant white flowers appear either before or together with the leaves. The plums are small, red or yellow.

Several cherry plum varieties are nowadays available in Finland, usually of foreign origin: some have red leaves and flowers for decoration; others have been selected for fruit production. At Mustila the varieties ‘Vetraz’ and ‘Podarok St. Peterburgu’ have been planted for test purposes, both having shown promise in different parts of southern Finland.


Prunus avium - gean, mazzard, wild cherry


The gean is usually a non-suckering fruit and forest tree which grows larger than the familiar sour cherry of gardens. Even in Finland it grows to 5-10m. The trunk is red-brown and shiny with decorative horizontal grooves, the bark exfoliating in horizontal strips. The branches are erect, in contrast to the drooping branches of the sour cherry. The gean flowers coincidentally with leaf break, in white clusters. The fruit is usually dark red but sometimes yellow, even almost black, either sweet or slightly bitter. In the wild the berries are about finger-tip size but on selected varieties noticeably larger. These are the cherries that are sold in summer in Finnish markets, though they are usually imported from southern Europe or even Turkey.

The gean is rather frost tender in Finland. It can only be recommended with any confidence for growing in Ahvenanmaa or on the south coast, though some favourable reports have come from further inland. Of a test batch received at Mustila from central Sweden in the 1990s, 5 handsome trees still survive.

In Sweden there are small plantations of the gean with sturdy trunks, grown for use by craftsmen. For fruit production, the species has been developed for hundreds of years producing hundreds of different cherry types, the hardiest of which can be tried in Finland. With a view to fruit production, the hardiest types are probably from Sweden, Belorussia, Russia, or the Baltic states.


Prunus americana - American plum, American red plum, goose plum

Growing into a high shrub, the American plum forms dense thickets from its suckering roots in its native habitat, the edges of forest in eastern and central parts of North America. The shrub bears white flowers before the leaves appear. Later it produces edible, 2-3 cm usually red fruit, with a bluish surface bloom; the flavour varies between trees from bitter to pleasantly sweet.

The species has long been cultivated in its native areas, and the best individuals have been selected as varieties suitable for cold areas where most plums can’t be grown successfully. In Finland the American plum is considered hardier than sour cherry (P. cerasus), although there has been as yet little experience with the American. The young specimens planted at Mustila are from the northern parts of its natural range and have so far developed without damage, although the site isn’t the best possible for the species. It thrives best in a sunny, dry, warm situation.


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