The plum was one of the first domesticated fruits. Neolithic plum remains have been found at archeological sites, along with olives, grapes, and figs. Plums originated in the Caucasian mountains and northern Asia.
Depending upon taste in taxonomy, there are 19–40 plum species, but only 2 are of worldwide commercial significance. There are well over 1,000 plum cultivars, of which a few dozen are popular.
Plum trees may naturally grow to 12 meters in height and 10 meters across. Commercial plum trees are usually half that size.
Plum fruit ranges from tart to sweet. The skin may be particularly tart.
Besides eaten fresh, plums are prepared in a variety of ways, including being dried, salted, or pickled. A prune is a dried plum. Whereas most plums grown for fresh consumption are clingstone (a difficult-to-remove pit), prunes are typically freestone cultivars (the pit is readily removed).
Plums have the typical phytonutrients and are high in vitamin C. Prunes are particularly prized for their laxative effect. Daily consumption of a few prunes promotes proper bowel function.