Traditional plum varieties in the northern Netherlands: modern occurrences and archaeological evidence


  • H. Woldring


Since the cultivation of plums (Prunus domestica s.l.) in the Neolithic, a multitude of varieties have arisen in Europe. For the greater part these are small-fruited plums cultivated in limited areas and of little economic importance. This paper discusses the traditional plum varieties recorded in the Netherlands. Only some of them have been described in detail in the literature. Overall, the number of these varieties has significantly decreased in recent decades. The characteristics of the stones and fruits are of major importance in the identification of varieties. Besides photographs of the stones and fruits, additional detailed information is presented to facilitate the identification of individual varieties. Plum stones have been secured in substantial numbers from (post-)medieval occupation deposits. The various types of stone indicate that a range of varieties were cultivated in the Netherlands, several of which are still present today. All the evidence suggests that part of these varieties were developed locally. The archeological record shows that the cultivation of different varieties significantly predates their first mention in the literature. This applies in particular to some renowned English varieties, which actually originate from the Continent.