Prunus L.
Sp.Pl. 2:473 (1753)

Name Status: Current
Browse to the list of specimens for Prunus L.

Scientific Description
Amanda Spooner, Friday 3 October 2008

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".

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.