Mirabelles are a type of plum, and are a common sight in French markets in August. The fruit is very small, the size of large cherries, and typically either bright red or golden yellow. Mirabelles can be eaten fresh, but are primarily used for making jams and similar preserves, as well as fruit tarts. They are also the plum species most often used in plum brandy and similar plum-based spirits.
Mirabelles are usually classified as Prunus insititia, along with Damsons and Bullaces (although they are sweeter than these fruits), but are sometimes also classified as a variety of the common European Plum (Prunus domestica v. syriaca).
Cherry Plums are very similar to Mirabelles, in fact often indistinguishable. Cherry Plums are usually categorised in a related species - Prunus cerasifera.
Regardless of the classification, Mirabelles and Cherry Plums make an interesting addition to the garden or orchard.
Mirabelle and Cherry Plum trees are hardy and grow well throughout Europe. Like the other minor plum species, they have good disease resistance.
Mirabelles are partially self-fertile but will set a better crop if another mirabelle is planted nearby. Reflecting their close relationship, Mirabelles will also cross-pollinate with most European plums and damsons if they flower at the same time - they usually overlap with most early and mid-season blooming plums.
Cherry Plums are generally fully self-fertile, and flower very early in the spring. They will also cross-pollinate other plum varieties - usually only the earliest blooming - that are in flower at the same time.