Prunus meaning

Prunus meaning DEFAULT


Genus of trees and shrubs

Prunus is a genus of trees and shrubs, which includes (among many others) the fruits plums, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, and almonds.

Native to the northern temperate regions,[2] 430 different species are classified under Prunus.[3] Many members of the genus are widely cultivated for their fruit and for decorative purposes. Prunus fruit are drupes, or stone fruits. The fleshy mesocarp surrounding the endocarp is edible while the endocarp itself forms a hard, inedible shell called the pyrena ("stone" or "pit").[4] This shell encloses the seed (or "kernel") which is edible in many species (such as almonds) but poisonous in others (such as apricots). Most Prunus fruit are commonly used in processing, such as jam production, canning, drying, and seeds for roasting.[5]


Members of the genus can be deciduous or evergreen. A few species have spiny stems. The leaves are simple, alternate, usually lanceolate, unlobed, and often with nectaries on the leaf stalk along with stipules. The flowers are usually white to pink, sometimes red, with five petals and five sepals. Numerous stamens are present. Flowers are borne singly, or in umbels of two to six or sometimes more on racemes. The fruit is a fleshy drupe (a "prune") with a single relatively large, hard-coated seed (a "stone").[6]

Within the rose family Rosaceae, it was traditionally placed as a subfamily, the Amygdaloideae (incorrectly "Prunoideae"), but was sometimes placed in its own family, the Prunaceae (or Amygdalaceae). More recently, Prunus is thought to have evolved from within a much larger clade now called subfamily Amygdaloideae (incorrectly "Spiraeoideae").[1]


Linnean classification[edit]

In 1737, Carl Linnaeus used four genera to include the species of modern PrunusAmygdalus, Cerasus, Prunus, and Padus—but simplified it to Amygdalus and Prunus in 1758.[7] Since then, the various genera of Linnaeus and others have become subgenera and sections, as all the species clearly are more closely related. Liberty Hyde Bailey says: "The numerous forms grade into each other so imperceptibly and inextricably that the genus cannot be readily broken up into species."[8]

Traditional classification[edit]

Historical treatments break the genus into several different genera, but this segregation is not currently widely recognised other than at the subgeneric rank. The ITIS recognises just the single genus Prunus, with an open list of species,[a] all of which are given at List of Prunus species.[b]

One treatment of the subgenera derives from the work of Alfred Rehder in 1940. Rehder hypothesized five subgenera: Amygdalus, Prunus, Cerasus, Padus, and Laurocerasus.[9] To them C. Ingram added Lithocerasus.[10] The six subgenera are described as follows:

  • Subgenus Amygdalus, almonds and peaches: axillary buds in threes (vegetative bud central, two flower buds to sides); flowers in early spring, sessile or nearly so, not on leafed shoots; fruit with a groove along one side; stone deeply grooved; type species: Prunus dulcis (almond)
  • Subgenus Prunus, plums and apricots: axillary buds solitary; flowers in early spring stalked, not on leafed shoots; fruit with a groove along one side, stone rough; type species: Prunus domestica (plum)
  • Subgenus Cerasus, true cherries: axillary buds single; flowers in early spring in corymbs, long-stalked, not on leafed shoots; fruit not grooved, stone smooth; type species: Prunus cerasus (sour cherry)
  • Subgenus Lithocerasus, bush cherries: axillary buds in threes; flowers in early spring in corymbs, long-stalked, not on leafed shoots; fruit not grooved, stone smooth; type species: Prunus pumila (sand cherry)
  • Subgenus Padus, bird cherries: axillary buds single; flowers in late spring in racemes on leafy shoots, short-stalked; fruit not grooved, stone smooth; type species: Prunus padus (European bird cherry), now known to be polyphyletic[11]
  • Subgenus Laurocerasus, cherry laurels: mostly evergreen (all the other subgenera are deciduous); axillary buds single; flowers in early spring in racemes, not on leafed shoots, short-stalked; fruit not grooved, stone smooth; type species: Prunus laurocerasus (European cherry-laurel)

Phylogenetic classification[edit]

An extensive phylogenetic study based on different chloroplast and nuclear sequences divides Prunus into three subgenera:[12]


Main article: List of Prunus species

The lists below are incomplete, but include most of the better-known species.

Eastern Hemisphere[edit]

Western Hemisphere[edit]


The development sequence of a nectarine(P. persica) over a 7.5-month period, from bud formation in early winter to fruit ripening in midsummer

The genus Prunus includes the almond, the nectarine and peach, several species of apricots, cherries, and plums, all of which have cultivars developed for commercial fruit and nut production. The almond is not a true nut; the edible part is the seed. Other species are occasionally cultivated or used for their seed and fruit.

A number of species, hybrids, and cultivars are grown as ornamental plants, usually for their profusion of flowers, sometimes for ornamental foliage and shape, and occasionally for their bark.

Because of their considerable value as both food and ornamental plants, many Prunus species have been introduced to parts of the world to which they are not native, some becoming naturalised.

The Tree of 40 Fruit has 40 varieties grafted on to one rootstock.[13][14]

Species such as blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), are grown for hedging, game cover, and other utilitarian purposes.

The wood of some species (notably black cherry) is prized as a furniture and cabinetrytimber, especially in North America.

Many species produce an aromatic resin from wounds in the trunk; this is sometimes used medicinally. Other minor uses include dye production.

Pygeum, a herbal remedy containing extracts from the bark of Prunus africana, is used as to alleviate some of the discomfort caused by inflammation in patients suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Prunus species are food plants for the larvae of many Lepidoptera species (butterflies and moths); see List of Lepidoptera which feed on Prunus.

Prunus species are included in the Tasmanian Fire Service's list of low flammability plants, indicating that it is suitable for growing within a building protection zone.[15]

Ornamental Prunus[edit]

See also: List of Award of Garden Merit flowering cherries

Ornamentals include the group that may be collectively called "flowering cherries" (including sakura, the Japanese flowering cherries).


Many species are cyanogenic; that is, they contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides, notably amygdalin, which, on hydrolysis, yield hydrogen cyanide.[16] Although the fruits of some may be edible by humans and livestock (in addition to the ubiquitous fructivore of birds), seeds, leaves and other parts may be toxic, some highly so.[17] The plants contain no more than trace amounts of hydrogen cyanide, but on decomposition after crushing and exposure to air or on digestion, poisonous amounts may be generated. The trace amounts may give a characteristic taste ("bitter almond") with increasing bitterness in larger quantities, less tolerable to people than to birds, which habitually feed on specific fruits.

Benefits to human health[edit]

People are often encouraged to consume many fruits because they are rich in a variety of nutrients and phytochemicals that are supposedly beneficial to human health. The fruits of Prunus often contain many phytochemicals and antioxidants.[5][18][19] These compounds have properties that have been linked to preventing different diseases and disorders.[18][20][21] Research suggests that the consumption of these fruits reduces the risk of developing diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and other age-related declines.[20][21] Many factors can affect the levels of bioactive compounds in the different fruits of the genus Prunus, including the environment, season, processing methods, orchard operations, and postharvest management.[5]


Cherries contain many different phenolic compounds and anthocyanins, which are indicators of being rich in antioxidants.[22][20] Recent research has linked the phenolic compounds of the sweet cherry (Prunus avium) with antitumor properties.[23]

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) include superoxide radicals, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radicals, and singlet oxygen; they are the byproducts of metabolism. High levels of ROS lead to oxidative stress, which causes damage to lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids. The oxidative damage results in cell death, which ultimately leads to numerous diseases and disorders. Antioxidants act as a defense mechanism against the oxidative stress.[20][21] They are used to remove the free radicals in a living system that are generated as ROS.[24][20] Some of those antioxidants include gutathione S-transferase, glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, and catalase.[24] The antioxidants present in cherry extracts act as inhibitors of the free radicals.[18] However, the DNA and proteins can be damaged when an imbalance occurs in the level of free radicals and the antioxidants. When not enough antioxidants are available to remove the free radicals, many diseases can occur, such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, Parkinson's disease, etc.[21] Recent studies have shown that using natural antioxidants as a supplement in chemotherapy can decrease the amount of oxidative damage. Some of these natural antioxidants include ascorbic acid, tocopherol, and epigallocatechin gallate; they can be found in certain cherry extracts.[24]


Similar to cherries, strawberries, and raspberries, almonds are also rich in phenolics. Almonds have a high oxygen radical absorbing capacity (ORAC), which is another indicator of being rich in antioxidants.[5][25] As stated before, high levels of free radicals are harmful, thus having the capacity to absorb those radicals is greatly beneficial. The bioactive compounds, polyphenols and anthocyanins, found in berries and cherries are also present in almonds.[26][25] Almonds also contain nonflavonoid and flavonoid compounds, which contribute to the antioxidant properties of almonds.[5][27][25] Flavonoids are a group of structurally related compounds that are arranged in a specific manner and can be found in all vascular plants on land. They also contribute to the antioxidant properties of almonds.[27] Some of the nonflavonoid compounds present are protocatechuic, vanillic, and p-hydroxybenzoic acids. Flavonoid compounds that can be found in the skin of the almond are flavanols, dihydroflavonols, and flavanones.[27][25]


Of all of the different species of stone fruits, plums are the richest in antioxidants and phenolic compounds. The total antioxidant capacity (TAC) varies within each fruit, but in plums, TAC is much higher in the skin than in the flesh of the fruit.[5][28][19]


Apricots are high in carotenoids, which play a key role in light absorption during development. Carotenoids are the pigments that give the pulp and peel of apricots and other Prunus fruits their yellow and orange colors. Moreover, it is an essential precursor for vitamin A, which is especially important for vision and the immune system in humans.[5][29] Moreover, these fruits are quite rich in phenolic substances, including catechin, epicatechin, p-coumaric acid, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid.[29][30]

Peaches and nectarines[edit]

Similar to the plum, peaches and nectarines also have higher TAC in the skin than in the flesh.[5][28] They also contain moderate levels of carotenoids and ascorbic acid.[31][28][19] Peaches and nectarines are orange and yellow in color, which can be attributed to the carotenoids present.[5]Ascorbic acid is important in hydroxylation reactions, such as collagen synthesis, de novo synthesis of bone and cartilage, and wound healing. Ascorbic acid is vitamin C, which is essential for repairing tissues and absorbing iron.[5][19]

Pests and diseases[edit]

Various Prunus species are winter hosts of the Damson-hop aphid, Phorodon humuli, which is destructive to hops Humulus lupulus just at the time of their maturity,[32] so plum trees should not be grown in the vicinity of hop fields.

Corking is the drying or withering of fruit tissue.[33] In stone fruit, it is often caused by a lack of boron and/or calcium.[34]

Gummosis is a nonspecific condition of stone fruits (peach, nectarine, plum, and cherry) in which gum is exuded and deposited on the bark of trees. Gum is produced in response to any type of wound – insect, mechanical injury, or disease.[35]

Apiosporina morbosa is a major fungal disease in the Northern Americas, with many urban centres running black knot fungus management programs.[36] This disease is best managed by physical removal of knot-bearing branches to prevent spore spread and immediate disposal of infected tissue.[36] Chemical treatment is not largely effective, as trees can easily be re-infected by neighbouring knots.

Palaeobotanical models[edit]

Ambox current red.svg

This article needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(September 2021)

The earliest known fossil Prunus specimens are wood, drupe, seed, and a leaf from the middle Eocene of the Princeton Chert of British Columbia.[37] Using the known age as calibration data, a partial phylogeny of some of the Rosaceae from a number of nucleotide sequences was reconstructed.[38]Prunus and its sister clade Maloideae (apple subfamily) has been suggested to have diverged 44.3 million years ago which is within the Lutetian, or older middle Eocene.[c] Stockey and Wehr report: "The Eocene was a time of rapid evolution and diversification in Angiosperm families such as the Rosaceae ...."[37]

The Princeton finds are among a large number of angiosperm fossils from the Okanagan Highlands dating to the late early and middle Eocene. Crataegus is found at three locations: the McAbee Fossil Beds, British Columbia; the Klondike Mountain Formation around Republic, Washington, and the Allenby Formation around Princeton, British Columbia, while Prunus is found at those locations plus the Coldwater Beds of Quilchena, British Columbia and Chu Chua Formation around Chu Chua, British Columbia. A review of research on the Eocene Okanagan Highlands[39] reported that the Rosaceae were more diverse at higher altitudes. The Okanagan highlands formations date to as early as 52 mya, but the 44.3 mya date[citation needed], which is approximate, depending on assumptions, might still apply. The authors state: "... the McAbee flora records a diverse early middle Eocene angiosperm-dominated forest."[39]: 165 


The Online Etymology Dictionary presents the customary derivations of plum[40] and prune[41] from Latin prūnum,[42] the plum fruit. The tree is prūnus;[43] and Pliny uses prūnus silvestris to mean the blackthorn. The word is not native Latin, but is a loan from Greek προῦνον (prounon), which is a variant of προῦμνον (proumnon),[44] origin unknown. The tree is προύμνη (proumnē).[45] Most dictionaries follow Hoffman, Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Griechischen, in making some form of the word a loan from a pre-Greek language of Asia Minor, related to Phrygian.

The first use of Prunus as a genus name was by Carl Linnaeus in Hortus Cliffortianus of 1737,[46] which went on to become Species Plantarum. In the latter, Linnaeus attributes the word to "Varr.", who it is assumed must be Marcus Terentius Varro.[dubious – discuss]


  1. ^Do a search in the ITIS database on the scientific name Prunus for its current list.
  2. ^Other species appear, as well, which for whatever reasons are not yet in ITIS.
  3. ^A date of 76 mya is given for Rosaceae, which is within the late Cretaceous.


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External links[edit]

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prunus - a genus of shrubs and trees of the family Rosaceae that is widely distributed in temperate regionsPrunus - a genus of shrubs and trees of the family Rosaceae that is widely distributed in temperate regions

genus Prunus

rosid dicot genus - a genus of dicotyledonous plants

family Rosaceae, Rosaceae, rose family - a large family of dicotyledonous plants of order Rosales; have alternate leaves and five-petaled flowers with numerous stamens

plum, plum tree - any of several trees producing edible oval fruit having a smooth skin and a single hard stone

plumcot, plumcot tree - hybrid produced by crossing Prunus domestica and Prunus armeniaca

apricot, apricot tree - Asian tree having clusters of usually white blossoms and edible fruit resembling the peach

common apricot, Prunus armeniaca - temperate zone tree bearing downy yellow to rosy fruits

black apricot, Prunus dasycarpa, purple apricot - small hybrid apricot of Asia and Asia Minor having purplish twigs and white flowers following by inferior purple fruit

cherry tree, cherry - any of numerous trees and shrubs producing a small fleshy round fruit with a single hard stone; many also produce a valuable hardwood

Prunus besseyi, Rocky Mountains cherry, Western sand cherry - dwarf ornamental shrub of western United States having large black to red and yellow sweet edible fruit

Prunus caroliniana, wild orange, cherry laurel, laurel cherry, mock orange - small flowering evergreen tree of southern United States

almond tree - any of several small bushy trees having pink or white blossoms and usually bearing nuts

cherry laurel, laurel cherry, Prunus laurocerasus - frequently cultivated Eurasian evergreen shrub or small tree having showy clusters of white flowers and glossy foliage and yielding oil similar to bitter almond oil

common bird cherry, European bird cherry, hagberry tree, Prunus padus - small European cherry tree closely resembling the American chokecherry

peach, peach tree, Prunus persica - cultivated in temperate regions

nectarine, nectarine tree, Prunus persica nectarina - variety or mutation of the peach bearing fruit with smooth skin and (usually) yellow flesh

Prunus cuneata, Prunus pumila, Prunus pumilla susquehanae, Prunus susquehanae, sand cherry - small straggling American cherry growing on sandy soil and having minute scarcely edible purplish-black fruit

blackthorn, Prunus spinosa, sloe - a thorny Eurasian bush with plumlike fruits

chokecherry tree, Prunus virginiana, chokecherry - a common wild cherry of eastern North America having small bitter black berries favored by birds

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Meaning of prunus in English:


Pronunciation /ˈpruːnəs/


  • A tree or shrub of a large genus that includes many varieties grown for their spring blossom (cherry and almond) or for their fruit (plum, peach, and apricot).

    Genus Prunus, family Rosaceae

    ‘Commonly called plum, Prunus mume - the floral symbol of winter - is actually the flowering apricot.’

    • ‘So, instead, we drove to Taunton, through the bright sunshine, along hedged roads running between folded hills, with black-thorn bearing bright white star-flowers, and wild cherry and prunus in full bloom against an endless blue sky.’
    • ‘In the autumn, these insects migrate to members of the prunus family, such as plum and blackthorn, so attacks can be prevented by not planting these or related trees and shrubs near the pond.’
    • ‘The tree kangaroos have made themselves at home, already totally comfortable with the new climbing structure and munching on prunus and elm foliage provided for them to eat.’
    • ‘Others are valued for their beauty, especially the group of prunus yedoensis forming a walkway known as the Cherry Walk.’


Modern Latin, from Latin, literally ‘plum tree’.

Prunus Africana: un árbol salvavidas - Global 3000

Prunus (Prunus)

Interesting facts about Prunus:

Cherry Blossom

When we talk about Prunus, the first thing we think of is Cherry blossom.
Cherry blossoms are the flowers of several different types of trees belonging to the Prunus genus. The most popular species are “Prunus serrulata” (also known as “Sakura”) and “Prunus x yedoensis”, one of the most popular natural hybrids.

The Cherry blossom is one of the most recognizable symbol of Japan and also an unofficial symbol of the country.
It is the ultimate sign of spring and the coming of new life. Cherry blossoms are celebrated in Japanese art, poetry and songs. They are an iconic feature of the Japanese springtime landscape and it’s impossible to think of springtime Japan without them. They are so popular that festivals are celebrated in its honor.
Since the early 20th century, the Cherry blossom trees were given as a diplomatic gift to other countries. In 1912, Japan sent over 5000 Cherry blossom trees to the U.S. capital to symbolize the friendship between the two sides. Since then, the Cherry blossoms are also an integral part of the history of Washington, D.C.

It’s worth to mention that there is a controversy over the origin of Cherry blossom trees.
In past years, China has joined the controversy claiming that Cherry blossom trees originated from the Himalayan region in what is today China. Besides that, there has been claims that the Cherry Blossoms were originated not in China or Japan, but in Korea. Korea claims that Cherry blossoms originate from Korea, and that the Japanese only told the US that they came from Japan because Korea was under their colonial rule at the time. Unfortunately, Cherry blossoms have not been immune from political bashing.

Benefits and Uses

The genus Prunus has many economically important species, such as the cultivated plum, peach, cherry, almond and apricot.
They are popular because they produce an edible and delicious stone fruits. Stone fruits, also called drupes, are cultivated all over the world, occupying an area of 5 million ha.

Many species are grown as ornamentals.

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Meaning prunus

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