The cherry plum on top

Shooting Times & Country|June 24, 2020

The cherry plum on top
These early-blooming edibles are a surprisingly common find and are delicious on their own or in a cherry vodka, notes John Wright

I once offered to thread a needle for my mother when I saw her make several failed attempts. She refused, explaining that the threading of needles was illegal for men and boys. It was 20 years later when, approaching my thirties, I realized that it was hogwash and just a way to stop me from stabbing myself. We tend to believe what we are told by our parents, and the considerably more accurate admonition not to eat wild berries has found its way into the heart of most of us.

This instilled fear no doubt explains why great swathes of July pavement, roadside, and park are frequently covered by a sticky layer of a trampled fruit that should have found its way into pies, wine, and jam. It is the cherry plum that suffers this indignity, its disturbingly small fruit sufficiently berry-like to bring mother’s dire warnings to mind. A great pity, as this little plum is extremely useful and free.

The cherry plum, Prunus cerasifera, is a small tree (or large shrub) and a species of plum, not a cherry. The cherry is also a Prunus, Pavium, so they are, at least, related. The common name comes from the fruit’s similarity to cherries, reflected in the Latin name, which means ‘plum that bears cherries’, though they are merely plums that look like cherries. Another name for it is the Myrobalan, meaning ‘juicy date’. What it is not, as many thinks, is the mirabelle plum. This is a subspecies of the ‘true’ plum, with the Latin name of Prunus domestica subsp. syriaca.

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June 24, 2020