Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Delightful Damsons

Damson Plum (prunus damascenum)

"Did God or man make plums from sloes?
The truth may be, that no one knows.
How blessed are we when summer comes
To celebrate this feast of plums."

As you can see from the above picture, the Damsons are slowly ripening.  A range of varieties of damson are available, some being more appropriate for eating when ripe, straight from the tree, while others benefit from cooking.  They can also be pickled and preserved or made into damson gin.  In Slavic countries they are used to make slivovitz.

The name Damson derives from the Latin prunum damascenum, meaning plum of Damascus.  They were first cultivated in antiquity in the area around the ancient city of Damascus, capital of modern-day Syria, and were introduced to England by the Romans.  Remnants of  Damsons are often found during archaeological digs of ancient Roman camps across England, and ancient writings describe the use of damson skins in the manufacture of purple dye.

The Damson was introduced into the American colonies by English settlers before the American Revolution and are regarded as thriving better in the eastern United States than other European plum varieties.

The tree blossoms with small white flowers in early April and the fruit is harvested in late August or early September.


  1. Interesting history of Damson's. I love them as they make the best jam, sets very easily too. They grow wild on our lane. I also have one in the garden which I grew from a stone. It has it's first fruits this year.

  2. Interesting post, although I must say that I'm not keen on them! Flighty xx