48. Purpleleaf Plum

(Prunus cerasifera 'Pissardii')

Family: Rosaceae


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Along the south side of the path between Savery and Gowen Halls stand two Purpleleaf Plum trees. Their soft pink flowers bloom before the Quad's Yoshino Cherries , and then these trees wear purple foliage until fall. In between, the trees produce deep red plums no larger than huge cherries. A variant of the typical Cherry Plum first arose in Persia as the original purpleleaf plum. This variant was sent to France around 1800 by M. Pissard, and all other varieties are related to this old variant. Now, fifty additional varieties are on record; as a group they're also called flowering or ornamental plums, names which don't preclude delicious fruit on some. All plants in this genus produce substances that break down in water to form cyanide. However in small amounts this toxin can stimulate respiration, improve digestion, and give a sense of well-being.

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