Dunbars plums produce a plum intermediate between the American and beach plums. It is a natural hybrid which is fully self fertile and easy to grow from seed. The trees are vigorous seedling upright trees and form a single trunk. The 1/2 to 1 1/2 inch fruit range from red to blue. The fruit is clean with little insect damage or fungus making a quality fruit for processing for jams, jellies and other uses. This Ecos strain was selected only from trees for their high quality fruit, good yields and no insect or disease damage.
Selected seedlings from a hybrid swarm: When I first started growing plums for the wildlife and conservation use, I came across these natural hybrids in the seed beds by noticing their large and clean leaves. Often these were very vigorous trees often growing twice or three times the height of the neighboring seedlings. I soon began making a collection of them throughout my farm and found them very vigorous in my low fertility soils. As time went on and some of the earliest plantings fruited, I expanded these selections looking for larger fruited types as well as heavier producers. I found this to be the case of using the most vigorous plants and those with the healthiest leaves. This equated to heavier production and produced a great variety of tart and sweet plums. This is what is found in my plantings today and from what I collect from to make seeds. These can be used like I did for creating an edible hedge as well as isolated groups of them throughout mixed plantings of other trees. Some do runner but many do not. The clean fruit is great for jam and jelly and some are sweet enough to eat directly from the tree. Named selections can easily be created in the progeny of this Ecos strain.
It is easy to maintain Dunbars as a single trunk tree. As the trees produce fruit, they will sometimes lean in one direction because of the weight of the crop. If a tree was on its own roots, this would allow for some stolon development which would then replace the older trunks in the orchard. Both beach plum and American plum are shorter lived species and 20 years is the maximum for a single trunk. After that a new stolon will then replace the failing plant. The roots will live on indefinitely. Grafting is a short term solution to get clones. But having it on its own roots means the orchard could literally last for many decades without needing replacement trees. Just a thought! Having a multi clonal orchard along with seedlings will also increase yields and provide future varieties and flavors currently not found in the European and Japanese plums.
The beginning of my Dunbars plum plantings began with natural crosses of beach plum and American plums woven throughout my farm. This is not a common occurrence but it happens enough that it is easy to spot. It is fortunate this plum is intermediate of the two species which is helpful in finding new varieties as well as keeping a lively gene pool to make populations from. The reason to continue this line of plums is that it automatically creates a whole new array of flavor and fruiting profiles not found in either species alone. This unique manifestation of a new plum is usually used for breeding however even from seed, the plants create enough diversity that each plant has delicious fruit. The wide range of flavors, sweetness and colors makes it a highly desirous type of plum for hedging. It also is a way to find a way new varieties with desirable characteristics.
Germination: Fall plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. Most seeds will sprout the first year, however it is not uncommon for 50 percent of the seeds to sprout in the second year depending on the conditions. To germinate seeds indoors, put the seeds in a lightly moist Canadian peat moss and refrigerate from 34-38 F for 60-120 days. The seeds will begin cracking open in the fridge after 60-90 days. A portion of the seeds will not sprout and these will need to go through another warm period (summer) and cold to sprout. Plant your sprouted seeds one at a time in a lightly moist well drained soil mix. Tops will appear in 1-2 weeks.
|Genus & Species||Prunus x dunbarii (americana x maritima or reverse)|
|Pollination Requirements||Self fertile but best if 2-3 plants are grown near each other for best fruit set.|
|Soil||Sandy to loamy. Adaptable.|
|Climate||Zone 3 to Zone 9|
|Ease of Cultivation||Easy to grow from seeds. Take care not to throw the seeds out the first year if they do not sprout. Sometimes they have a embryo dormancy. One of the best seed strains for a wild plum hedgerow. Great diversity of flavors and useful as seedlings and as a means to select cultivars from.|