The plum tree is a member of the genus Prunus, which also includes peaches, apricots, and nectarines. This grouping of fruit is more commonly referred to as stone fruit, a name that is derived from the hard pits that cover their seeds.

Over 2,000 varieties of plums exist, each with a diverse set of shapes and colors, and they are divided into the following six categories - Japanese, American, Ornamental, Damson, Wild, and European. Japanese plums are the most familiar and widely sold fresh-eating plum. They are round or heart-shaped with a dark red or peachy-yellow flesh. Though the fruit originated in China, it was the Japanese who began to cultivate and further develop this particular variety, thus winning naming rights. The European varieties were discovered 2,000 years ago and tend to be smaller and more oval in shape and are commonly dried and used to make jams and jellies.

The United States is the second greatest producer of plums, with China ranking first, and California produces over 95% of US plums. Plums that are harvested for fresh-eating must be hand picked, but those that will be used for canning or drying can be collected by a shake and catch method. When selecting fruit, ripe plums will feel soft when given a gentle squeeze.

In Season

May, June, July, August, September, October, November

Recipes with Plums

Hot and Cold Stone Fruit Salad with Toasted Almonds

Dmitry Elperin, The Village Pub

Stone Fruit Shrub

Elianna Friedman, CUESA’s Market Chef

Santa Rosa Plum and Strawberry Jam with Rosemary

Rachel Saunders, author of The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook (Andrew McMeel, 2010)

Plum Catsup

Karen Solomon, author of Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It: And Other Kitchen Projects

Articles about Plums

July 25, 2014

The Great Tomato Debate

Confused by terms like heirloom, open-pollinated, hybrid, and GMO? We’ll help you sort them out.

July 18, 2014

Meet Marcy

CUESA is excited to welcome our new executive director, Marcy Coburn! Find out what inspires her work.

July 11, 2014

Farm Tripping

Summer is prime time for agritourism. Here’s our list of local U-picks, tours, and other farm fun.

July 09, 2014

A Fond Farewell from Critical Edge Knife Sharpening

Bob Kattenburg retires after 19 years as the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market’s knife sharpener.

July 04, 2014

On the Farm at Marin Roots

Take a behind-the-scenes look at organic veggie growing with the young farmers at Marin Roots Farm.


CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and its educational programs. Learn More »