Plum, Damson Prunus institia

Damson Plum - Prunus institia
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A hardy plant that produces dark blue fruit. Bears in August. (Self-pollinating) (zones 5-7)

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Zones 5 - 7 Zones 5 - 7
Hardiness Zones 5 - 7
The Damson Plum can be expected to grow in the zones shown in color in the zone map. View Map
Fruit Tree Fruit Tree
Type of tree
Fruit Trees
10' - 20' High 10' - 20' High
Mature Height
The Damson Plum grows to be 10' - 20' feet in height.
10' - 20' Spread 10' - 20' Spread
Mature Spread
The Damson Plum has a spread of about 10' - 20' at full maturity.
Medium Growth Medium Growth
Growth Rate
This tree grows at a medium growth rate. More about this.
Full Sun Full Sun
This plum does well in full sun.
Various Soils Various Soils

This tree grows in a wide variety of soil types and has some tolerance for heavy and waterlogged soils. It prefers a moist, well drained, loamy, mildly acidic to mildly alkaline soil.

Oval Shape Oval Shape
This plum has oval shape.

The Damson plum tree has many traits that make it a fine choice for the homeowner. These characteristics are a low and compact crown, tolerance to different kinds of soils, cold hardiness, resistance to diseases, and the ability to thrive with little or no care. The tart juicy plums are excellent for home canning. While the Damson plum is self-fertile and doesn't require another tree to produce fruit, planting two trees is recommended for a better crop (it will still require insects to pollinate its own flowers).

Our standard Damson Plum seedlings are budded to Nemaguard and Guardian peach rootstock, while our dwarf seedlings are grafted to Prunus besseyi (Sand Cherry).

Chill hours (CU) requirement: 800. (Chill hours are the average hours of air temperature between 32 and 45 degrees F in a typical winter season). For best fruit production, calculate the chill unit (CU) for your growing zone to be sure it aligns with the CU requirement of this tree.


A small, vigorous, rugged, erect growing plum tree. White flowers are borne in umbrel-like clusters of 2-3 on short spurs, and solitary or 2-3 in axils on one year old wood. The later spring bloom time of the flowers makes them less frost prone. The foliage is dark green. Fruit production begins in 3-4 years.This tree bears heavy crops of purplish blue juicy, tart plums that ripens in August to October. Self-fertile. The tree adapts to wide range of soil types but requires moist soil. It is cold hardy and tolerates strong winds. Rainfall and high humidity during the growing season can cause the fruit to crack.Thinning is not necessary for Damson plums. Prune only to remove deadwood, crossing branches, or fast growing shoot that appear along the trunk or branches. (zones 5-7)

Wildlife Value

Plum trees provide cover and food to butterfly larva, birds, and mammals.


Damson plum has the distinction of being around virtually unaltered for thousands of years. Its seeds have been found in prehistoric dwellings. It appears in ancient Mesopotamian records, and is the plum of the ancient Greek poets. It took its name from Damascus. From there, it was taken to Italy and then to the rest of Europe where it now grows wild and in home orchards. The strong similarities between wild and domestic trees, and between the descriptions of ancient writers and observations today make this fruit tree noted for its remarkable consistancy.The Damson is often grouped with the European plums, but botanists classify it as a separate species. It may be an ancestor of the European plum. Wild plum trees are symbolic of independence. Plum is the national flower of Taiwan, and its flowers are often depicted in Asian art.

Height Variations

The standard grows to 20', and dwarf grows to 10' in height.

Spread Variations

Standard spread grows to 20', dwarf grows to 10'.


This tree requires moist, well drained soil and is not drought tolerant.


Simple, ovate or elliptic with acute or obtuse tips, finely toothed on the margins, green and often wrinkled on top, paler and softly hairy beneath.

Flower Color


Bloom Time


Fruit Description

Small, dark blue or purple 1" oval drupe with golden yellow firm flesh, taste can be either sour or sweet, clingstone. Ripens from August to early September.