Damson treesDamsons are a great addition to the fruit garden or orchard. We sell several damson varieties, and can advise on choosing and growing damson trees.
How to choose Damson trees
Damsons are primarily grown for use in the kitchen - if you can find the space it is definitely worth having at least one damson tree in your fruit tree collection.
Damsons have a distinctive rich flavour, similar but quite different to plums. They are superb for making jams, jellies, crumbles, and pies.
Damsons trees belong to the species Prunus insititia, which also includes Bullaces, St. Juliens, and Mirabelles. Damsons originate from Damascus in Syria and the name comes from the term "Damascene plum". This might suggest they need a Mediterranean climate, but in fact damson trees grow very easily in cold climates or situations where other plum tree species might not flourish. In the UK the centre of commercial damson production is the Lyth valley in Cumbria, north-west England - notable for its mild wet climate. However, although they can succeed in areas where sunlight is not plentiful, damson trees do not grow well if they are shaded.
Damson trees are therefore a reliable source of fresh fruit in climates where other fruit trees may not succeed. They are also amongst the easiest of fruit trees to grow, needing no pruning once they are established - indeed pruning is not only unnecessary but undesirable with damsons.
Damson trees grow somewhat differently to plums. They tend to have more branches and a denser canopy with more twigs, and this is one reason why they can also be used in fruiting hedges. Notable exceptions to this are Merryweather and Blue Violet, both of which grow with a more open (plum-like) habit.
All damsons are reasonably self-fertile, but will crop better with another tree of a different variety planted nearby. Most plum trees are also suitable pollinators.
Another characteristic of most damsons is that they have a clinging stone - the flesh adheres to the stone.