History Of Plum Trees And Their Hybrids

The documentation of ancient plums growing in antiquity is sparse. The best evidence of that oldest existence is best documented through America’s most famous pomologist, Luther Burbank, who reported in his twelve volume botanical literary classic, Small Fruits, Volume IV page 136, that the European plum, Prunus domestica, and its ancestor fruit originated in the Caucasus Mountains near the Caspian Sea. Burbank detailed evidence that the prune (dried plum) was a staple food of the Tartars, Mongols, Turks, and Huns “who maintained a crude horticulture from a very early period.” Several websites have put forth the absurd idea that, because the European plum, Prunus domestica, seeds were not found in the ruins of Pompeii after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, “whereas, most other old world fruits were,” that this plum could be concluded to be a recent hybrid of “spontaneous chromosome” doubling to produce a hexaploid offspring.

The earliest reference to plum history in the American colonies came from Prince Nursery of Flushing, New York, that was established in 1737 and reported in 1771 in an advertisement “33 kinds of plums” for sale. These plum trees were no doubt European plums, Prunus domestica.

After the year 1755, Henry Laurens, who was a guest and friend of Wililam Bartram, introduced olives, limes, ginger, everbearing strawberry, red raspberry, and blue grapes into the United States. From the south of France he introduced apples, pears, plums, and the white Chasselas grape which bore abundantly. Henry Laurens lived in Charleston, South Carolina and served as a President of the Continental Congress.

William Bartram described two species of American plums in his famous book, Travels, in his 1792 trip to Georgia, where he identified the Chicasaw plum, Prunus chicasaw, and in Alabama, he found a wild plum, Prunus indica.

Luther Burbank contributed more toward improving and hybridizing plum trees of different species than any other person in history. His work on the plum group of stone fruits stands apart from any other person for his unequaled contribution to improving various fruits that are grown and enjoyed today.

Burbank states that his importation of twelve plum seedlings in the year 1885 was the “most important importation of fruit bearers ever made at a single time into America.”

Burbank brought plums from all over the world and intercrossed them in a giant “melting pot” to produce the best characteristics and to reject the wrong ones. These genetic plum mixtures were recombined for many generations and resulted in plum hybrids today that are so different from the original species as to appear to be new species.

Burbank stated that he spent more time hybridizing plums than with any other plant breeding program, and he reported that he screened 7.5 million plum hybrid seedling crosses before releasing outstanding cultivars for sale. His famous line of plum trees that were popular in the late 1890’s are still admired and grown commercially for sale and in backyard gardens today, such as Burbank, Santa Rosa, Wickson, Golden, Satsuma, Shiro, and Ozark Premier. His first huge success was applauded by USDA Professor, H.E. Van Deman, who suggested that the pick-of-the-lot creation of Luther Burbank be named after its creator, thus, the “Burbank Plum.”

The most successful crosses between plums come from the Japanese plum, the most exotic, ‘Satsuma,’ the name suggested by Professor H.E. Van Deman of the USDA, who identified it as being imported from the Satsuma province in Japan. This unique plum grew a red skin with a pale-blue netting bloom overlay. The pulp was dark purplish-red, firm, tasty with an excellent quality to be preferred for home use.

Burbank’s experimental species were Japanese plums, Prunus triflora, that grew wild in Japan and were pickled by the natives. The Japanese plums grew in many colors in skin from white to purple, were large and rather tasteless, but the Japanese natives ate them while green and hard. The Japanese plum genes appear to dominate most hybrid plum offspring. Chinese plums, Prunus simonii, were aromatic, with rich colored skins, a small pit, but the skin cracks and the fruit tastes bitter.

European plums, Prunus domestica, are varied in sizes, largest to small, sweet or sour, complex genes, many colored skins, very widely adaptable, good for fresh eating, drying, or canning. The disadvantage: they are too juicy or watery. “Green Gage” is a well known standard European cultivar. Prunes are very high in sugar content.

Several species of America plums are very hardy and productive to the extent of covering the ground in spring with several layers of fruit. These plums can be tasty but have poor shipping quality. Burbank released an excellent hybrid strain of this cross called “Robinson plum.”

Several American native plum species have been used in hybridization experiments by Luther Burbank. American plums, Prunus Americana, wild goose plums, Prunus hortulans, the chicasaw plum, Prunus augustifolia, Western sand plum, Prunus besseyi, the beach plum, Prunus maritima, and the California wild plum, Prunus subcordata. These native plum trees are unusually cold hardy and frigid temperatures do no harm to them, even in the northernmost part of the central United States.

The “Myrobalan” plum originated as a French species, Prunus cerasifera is used extensively as a peach tree and plum tree rootstock that tends to be compatible with the resulting fruit tree union and appears to be highly resistant to nematodes and root diseases.

Burbank’s goal in hybridizing plums was to produce a tree that had “stability, novelty, variety, hardiness, beauty, shipping quality and adaptability.”

The plum leaves and twigs exhibit many subtle characteristics that can be experienced by the plant hybridizer to predict the future characteristics of fruit that will be grown from small seedling crosses. Most hybridizers known from experience a predictable outcome, even though these plant qualities are too intangible to explain to an audience, like changing facial expressions or minute variations of color changes. If the leaves of a plant are dark red, the fruit will be red. This same phenomenon is applicable to flowers such as the canna lily leaf color, and the red rhizome color; or in the crinum lily cultivars, a red bulb means a red flower; a light green bulb means a white flower.

Luther Burbank developed a seedless plum by hybridizing a French plum cultivar, “Sans noyaii.” These plums develop into various skin colors ranging from white to yellow, orange scarlet, crimson, violet, deep blue, almost black, striped, spotted, and mottled. These seedless plums were delicious and unique, but were never commercially successful with growers or with public demand.

Burbank crossed many plums that had a tendency to produce fruit with a high sugar content, like the sweetness of figs, pineapple and oranges. This high sugar content makes it possible for the plum (prune) to insure long term preservation, when it is dried. The prune contains a thick and tough skin of such texture that is required to not crack when the commercial drying process begins and proceeds to deliver a tasty, honey-sweet fruit that lasts well.

A prune will not dry properly into a marketable fruit, unless the plum contains a sugar concentration of at least 15%. Before drying, the prune is submerged briefly into an alkali solution that prevents future fermentation by preventing microbes from growing on the surface of the skin. For satisfactory prune production commercially, a prune tree must be a reliable grower with an annual substantial crop of fruit. The prune must ripen early, when the days are long and warm and must drop from the tree to avoid expensive picking costs at the proper ripening time. The prune fruit must cure and dry to a black color and grow a small pit. Most prune hybrids have been hybridized from the European plum, Prunus domestica.

There are also three ornamental varieties of flowering plum trees recommend for planting: Newport, Prunus cerasifera ‘Newport’, Purple Pony Prunus cerasifera ‘Purple Pony’, and Red Leaf Plum Prunus cerasifera ‘Thundercloud’, flowering plum trees.

Burbank developed purple leaved plum trees from a French plum ancestor with purple leaves, Prunus pissardi, that commercially are sold as ‘Thundercloud’ flowering plum, Vesuvius, and Othello. Some of these red leaf flowering plums developed by Burbank grew delicious red fruit in addition to the beautiful red ornamental leaves.

Plum fruit is rated high in antioxidant content that offers many health benefits like Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, Niacin, and the minerals; Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Iron.

Burbank sifted out the complexities of plum hybridization and even crossed the plum with the almond, Prunus dulcis, hoping to create a tasty almond kernel and a tasty pulp. He created many crosses with the Apricot, Prunus armeniaca L., and created plumcot trees, a 50/50 blend of plum trees and apricot trees; Pluot trees demonstrate a 75/25 blend of plum trees and apricot trees; and Aprium trees a 75/25 blend of apricot trees and plum trees.

Copyright (c) 2006 Patrick Malcolm

Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling

To stay healthy while traveling the immune system must be strong before it is subjected to many air borne viruses. Travel plans alone can cause large amounts of stress on the body, causing it to become weak. The best defense against sickness is to prepare the body for a strong immune system. Below are helpful tips to keep you healthy before, during and after your traveling adventures.

Sleep is one of the biggest ways that people can protect themselves from viral attacks. The immune system becomes weak when sleep is deprived from the body and healthy cells become slower to repair. Sleeping a full eight hours per night is recommended for reaching a maximum level of health. Resting or taking a nap also lets the mind unwind from a stressful day, increasing its strength to tell the body when to fight. Try this during your trip as well.

Fruits and vegetables are a great source of antioxidant power. Antioxidants destroy the cells that make us sick. Eat these before and during your trip and to keep the urge to select junk food when you’re on the go. The highest level of antioxidants found in fruits include: raisins, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, oranges, red grapes and cherries. Vegetables include: kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli flowers, beets, red bell peppers, onions, corn and eggplant.

When overseas avoid raw fruit and vegetables, try to bring your own, or wash them with tap water as the food and water may be contaminated. Also, avoid raw or undercooked meat, poultry and eggs and dairy products from small independent vendors.

Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water is also an important way to stay healthy. Drinking caffeine and alcohol rob the body of hydration, so it best to leave these agents out of the picture. Being dehydrated causes the body to act sluggish and toxins need to stay flushed out of the system. Again, be careful of the water when traveling overseas. Bring water to a boil before drinking it. Buying bottled or canned is fine as well as treated water with commercial iodine or chlorine tablets.

Exercise is very beneficial for keeping an optimum state of health. It keeps your energy level up as well as your spirit and helps people to sleep better at night. Bring a fitness DVD or a small pack of work out tools and make sure to get out to tour the city. When reserving a hotel get one with a pool or a gym to stay active and your metabolism level high.

Vaccinations are a good way to keep from contracting diseases, especially from overseas. Mosquito repellent and bug sprays also help lessen the chance of infections. If you are sleeping outside try using a mosquito net around your bed as a tent. Keeping your hands washed or sanitized help keep from spreading germs. Bring a bottle of sanitizer or hand wipes with you. Also, have a blood test and stool analysis upon returning home to make sure that you have not contracted anything serious.

Kyoto Travel Guide

Kyoto remained the capital of Japan for more than a thousand years. It carries the repute of being one of the most beautiful cities of this world. The initial perception of Kyoto anyone would perceive is of a city that has its roots in its own traditions but is simultaneously merging with the modernization of this world.

Transport
Kyoto is served by two Osaka airports namely Kansai International Airport and Itami Airport since it does not have one of its own. But, the track between these two cities is worth more than one glance for sure. Other modes of conveyance like buses and railways can also be used. Inter-city transport comprises majorly of buses, taxis, railways and for people who want to enjoy the picturesque allure of Kyoto, the option to travel slowly on foot or bicycle has also been given. If you love getting first class importance and treatment while traveling, then you can access this city in five star rooms of first class trains or on a business class ticket in a leading airplane service to reach this city of an entirely beguiling landscape.

Blossoms
If you have the opportunity of visiting this aesthetically attractive city, make use of it and experience the beautiful blossoming cherries and plums. Kyoto is a world famous area that offers its visitors with an opportunity of panorama of cherries and plums especially in the season of blossom. There is a plethora of places where you can view this, for example Eastern Kyoto, Central Kyoto and Northern Kyoto.

Festivals and Events
On every 3rd and 4th February, the event of bonfire takes place on the shrine of Yoshida. The perfect season to view the bloom of cherries is April 1 – April 15. Visitors throng in huge numbers to take one glance at this. Gion Masturi is another one of the most famous events of Kyoto. Daimonji Gozan Okuribi is another event of its kind whereby reverence to one’s ancestors is paid.

Cuisine
There are a number of options for lovers of food in Kyoto. There are numerous Japanese and Italian cafes that can cater to your needs. Kyoto is renowned internationally for its matcha and yatsuhashi. Matcha is mainly green tea but there is also some matcha ice-cream available for you. Yatsuhashi can either be raw or baked depending upon your own preference. Initially, it was made with cinnamon but now it’s always available in matcha and strawberry flavorings. Other unique specialties are inclusive of hamo, tofu, suppon and kaseki-ryori.

Accommodation
If you visit Kyoto in the season of bloom of cherries or in the period of Golden week, the price of accommodation would be astronomical. Most of the accommodations that cater to the needs of foreign tourists are in the central city. But a number of temples and shrines run their own lodging areas for visitors who do not have too much money to spare for 5 star accommodations. However, the staff that runs these lodging areas hardly speaks English so this is a major turn-off. Hostels are also a very reasonable and practical solution for tourists who want to live with some reduced costs but not reduced facilities.