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Prunus L.

Sp.Pl. 2:473 (1753)
Name Status

Scientific Description

Common name. Plum, Cherry, Peach, Apricot, Almond. Family Rosaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Trees, or shrubs; evergreen, or deciduous. Plants sometimes spiny, or unarmed. The spines axial. Leaves cauline. Plants with neither basal nor terminal concentrations of leaves; to 0.3–25 m high. Leptocaul. Mesophytic. Not heterophyllous. Leaves medium-sized, or large; fasciculate, or not fasciculate; alternate; spiral; not decurrent on the stems; ‘herbaceous’; not imbricate; petiolate. Petioles wingless. Leaves non-sheathing; not gland-dotted, or gland-dotted (at the base of the leaves); aromatic (occasionally, e.g. bitter almond), or without marked odour; simple; epulvinate. Leaf blades entire; flat; ovate, or obovate, or oblong, or elliptic; pinnately veined; cross-venulate; cordate, or attenuate at the base, or cuneate at the base, or rounded at the base. Mature leaf blades glabrous. Leaves with stipules. Stipules intrapetiolar; free of the petiole; free of one another; leafy (scarious); early caducous. Leaf blade margins entire, or crenate, or serrate; sometimes prickly, or not prickly; flat. Vegetative buds scaly. Leaves without a persistent basal meristem. Vernation conduplicate, or convolute. Domatia recorded. Leaf anatomy. Hairs absent. Extra-floral nectaries present (on margin). Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite. Plants not viviparous; homostylous. Floral nectaries present. Entomophilous; via hymenoptera.

Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; terminal, or axillary. Inflorescence few-flowered. Flowers in racemes (sometimes fascicled), or in umbels, or in corymbs. Inflorescences simple. The terminal inflorescence unit racemose. Inflorescences terminal, or axillary. Flowers pedicellate, or subsessile, or sessile; ebracteate; ebracteolate; small, or medium-sized; regular; 5 merous. Floral receptacle markedly hollowed. Free hypanthium present; campanulate, or urceolate, or tubular; extending beyond ovary. Hypogynous disk present. Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; 10; 2 -whorled; isomerous. Calyx present; 5; 1 -whorled; polysepalous. Calyx segments entire. Calyx spreading; glabrous; imbricate; exceeded by the corolla; green, or brown; non-fleshy; not persistent. Sepals triangular. Corolla present; 5; 1 -whorled; polypetalous; imbricate; regular; glabrous abaxially; glabrous adaxially; plain; white, or pink; deciduous. Petals elliptic, or orbicular; clawed; not hooded; not navicular. Corolla members entire. Androecium present. Androecial members indefinite in number. Androecium 10–100. Androecial members free of the perianth; markedly unequal; free of one another; 2–15 -whorled. Stamens 10–100; attached on the rim of the hypanthium; not didynamous, not tetradynamous (inner filaments shorter than the outer); all more or less similar in shape; diplostemonous, or triplostemonous, or polystemonous; both opposite and alternating with the corolla members; inflexed in bud. Filaments not geniculate; glabrous; filiform. Anthers all alike; dorsifixed; versatile; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; tetrasporangiate. Gynoecium 1 carpelled. The pistil 1 celled. Carpels reduced in number relative to the perianth. Gynoecium monomerous; of one carpel; superior. Carpel stylate; apically stigmatic. Style straight. Stigmatic tissue terminal. Carpel 2 ovuled. Placentation apical. Styles simple; not becoming exserted. Stigmas capitate, or peltate (discoid). Ovules pendulous; non-arillate.

Fruit and seed features. Fruit falling from the plant before the next growing season; fleshy; yellow, or orange, or red, or purple to black; hairy, or not hairy. The fruiting carpel indehiscent to dehiscent; drupaceous (and therefore with a hard endocarp). Fruit 1 celled. Endocarp ribbed, or not ribbed. Dispersal unit the fruit. Dispersal by animals and birds. Fruit 1 seeded. Seeds 1 per locule. Seeds non-endospermic; medium sized, or large. Cotyledons 2. Testa hard.

Geography, cytology, number of species. World distribution: Cosmopolitan, occurring in North America, Central America, Asia, southern Europe, China, Australia (Queensland), in forests and open vegetation, often in montane or sub-alpine areas. Native of Australia, or adventive. Not endemic to Australia. Australian states and territories: Western Australia (naturalised), or South Australia, or Queensland, or New South Wales, or Victoria, or Tasmania. South-West Botanical Province. X=8; ploidy levels recorded 2, or 3, or 4, or 6, or 7. A genus of over 200 species; 1 species in Western Australia; Prunus cerasifera Ehrh.; 0 endemic to Western Australia.

Economic uses, etc. Important horticultural fruits, medicinal properties, wood turning and cabinet making, liqueurs and confectionary.

Etymology. From the Latin prunus "plum tree".

Amanda Spooner, 8 September 2016

Taxonomic Literature

  • Wheeler, Judy; Marchant, Neville; Lewington, Margaret; Graham, Lorraine 2002. Flora of the south west, Bunbury, Augusta, Denmark. Volume 2, dicotyledons. Australian Biological Resources Study.. Canberra..
  • Jessop, J. P.; Toelken, H. R. 1986. Flora of South Australia. Part I, Lycopodiaceae-Rosaceae. Govt. Print. Division.. Adelaide, S.A..