Plum

Medically Reviewed by Zilpah Sheikh, MD on August 02, 2023
5 min read

A plum is a sweet, juicy fruit with a thin, smooth skin surrounding rock-like pits.

Plum color

It can be large or small, with red, purple, green, yellow, or orange skin and pink, yellow, or orange flesh.

Plums belong to the same family as peaches, nectarines, and apricots. But plums are much more diverse than their stone-fruit cousins.

Plums first grew in China thousands of years ago. Then they made their way to Japan, parts of Europe, and America. Today, more than 2,000 varieties grow all over the world.

Plums add subtle sweetness to salads and desserts, but their health benefits are the juiciest part of the package.

Kakadu plum

It's a fruit from the kakadu plum tree. The tree is native to Australia and is commonly found in tropical woodlands. It's sometimes also called:

  • Billy goat plum
  • Green plum
  • Wild plum
  • Murunga
  • Marian
  • Salty plum
  • Gubinge
  • Kullari plum

The kakadu plum tree loses its leaves in the dry season. It is small with large, round leaves and cream-colored flowers that bloom from August to October.

The plums are smooth, fleshy, and egg-shaped with a single seed inside, and they range from yellow to green. Some people make them into jam, but most folks eat them raw.

The Indigenous peoples of Australia have been eating kakadu plums and using them as medicine for centuries. They used the fruit and parts of the tree to try to treat different problems, including:

Java plum

The Java plum, commonly known as the Jamun or Malabar plum, is a deep blue or purple-colored fruit native to India and the tropics. It is a fruit of the Syzygium cumini species, which fruits in the summertime.

The Java plum has quite a number of health advantages. Despite being one of the best home remedies for stomach pain and digestive issues, it also contains some other major health benefits.

Other plum varieties

  • Santa Rosa
  • Satsuma
  • Stanley
  • Seneca
 
 

 

The vitamin C in plums helps your body heal, build muscle, and form blood vessels. It's great for your eyes, too.

Here are other ways that plums are good for your health:

  • Heart disease.Phytochemicals and nutrients in plums lower the inflammation that triggers heart disease.
  • Anxiety. A plum a day may keep anxiety away. When your antioxidants are low, anxiety can be high.
  • Constipation. Plums, like prunes, can also help keep things moving through your system. They have a lot of sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that acts as a natural laxative.
  • High blood pressure and stroke. The potassium in plums is good for blood pressure control in two ways. It helps your body get rid of sodium when you pee, and it lessens tension in the walls of your blood vessels. When your blood pressure is low, your odds of getting a stroke go down.
  • Antioxidants. These substances protect the body against the cell and tissue damage that can lead to diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and cancer.
  • Blood sugar. Plums are chock full of fiber, which helps slow down a blood sugar spike after you eat carbs. They can also boost your body's production of adiponectin, a hormone that helps regulate your blood sugar levels.
  • Bone health. Some studies show that prunes (dried plums) may help reduce bone loss and may even preserve it.

One cup of sliced plums has:

  • Calories: 76
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: Less than 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 18 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Sugar: 16 grams

Plums are also a good source of:

Prunes, which are dried plums, have the same nutrition benefits, but they're much higher in sugar. One cup of pitted prunes has 66 grams of the sweet stuff.

One cup of prunes also has 12 grams of fiber. That's why they're a common home remedy for constipation. That fiber also gives them a low glycemic index, which means they help control your blood sugar.

You'll find plums in the grocery store and at farmers markets from May to October, though their peak season is July to August.

Look for firm plums that have a slight "give" when you squeeze them gently. If your plum ripens before you're ready to eat it, put it in the fridge.

If you need it to ripen quickly, keep your plum in a paper bag at room temperature overnight or up to 3 days.

Plums freeze well. Just remove the pit first.

Plums are great raw, roasted, poached, grilled, or sautéed. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Work plums into salads.
  • Cut them up with other stone fruits for a fresh fruit salsa.
  • Add a slice of plum to your water or tea.
  • Top your morning yogurt or granola with them.
  • Add plums to smoothies.

How to grow a plum tree

  1. Selecting a plum variety: Choose a plum tree variety that is well-suited to your climate and growing conditions. Consult with local nurseries to find out which varieties do well in your area.
  2. Choosing a planting location: Plum trees prefer full sun, so select a location in your garden that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Make sure the soil is well-draining and fertile.
  3. Planting the tree:
    • Plant your plum tree during the dormant season, typically in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.
    • Dig a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball of the tree.
    • Place the tree in the hole, making sure the root collar (where the roots meet the trunk) is at ground level or slightly above it.
    • Fill the hole with soil, and water the tree thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots.
  4. Watering: Young plum trees need regular watering to establish their roots. Keep the soil consistently moist but not overly so. Once the tree is established, it will require less frequent but deep watering.
  5. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree (but not touching the trunk) to help retain moisture, keep weeds away, and keep a regular soil temperature.
  6. Pruning: Pruning is essential for plum trees to promote healthy growth and fruit production. Prune during the dormant season to remove dead or diseased wood and to shape the tree's canopy so light can get in better.
  7. Fertilizing: Plum trees benefit from a balanced fertilizer application in the spring, just before new growth begins. Follow the recommended dosage on the fertilizer package for your tree's size and age.
  8. Pest and disease management: Keep an eye out for pests and common plum tree diseases, such as plum curculio, aphids, brown rot, and bacterial canker. Apply appropriate treatments if necessary and follow pest management practices.
  9. Thinning fruit: When the plum tree produces fruit, thin the fruit clusters to ensure larger, healthier plums. Remove excess fruit when they are about the size of a marble, leaving about 4-6 inches between each remaining fruit.
  10. Harvesting: Harvest plums when they are fully ripe but still firm. Gently twist or lift the fruit to see if it easily separates from the branch. Avoid pulling or yanking the fruit, as it can damage the tree.