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Damson trees

Damsons are a great addition to the fruit garden or orchard. We sell several damson varieties, and can advise on choosing and growing damson trees.

  • Damson trees

    Aylesbury Prune

    A traditional English damson, which used to be grown in the Vale of Aylesbury.
    • Picking season: Late
    • Self-fertility: Self-fertile
  • Damson trees

    Blue Violet

    Blue Violet damson trees
    A traditional Westmorland damson variety - unusually sweet and early-ripening for a damson.
    • Picking season: Early
    • Self-fertility: Self-fertile
  • Damson trees

    Farleigh

    Farleigh damson trees
    One of the hardiest damsons, and crops heavily. Farleigh has the distinctive damson flavour.
    • Picking season: Late
    • Self-fertility: Self-fertile
  • Damson trees

    King of the Damsons

    A traditional 19th century English damson from Nottinghamshire. Also widely-known as Bradley's King.
    • Picking season: Late
    • Self-fertility: Self-fertile
  • Damson trees

    Merryweather

    Merryweather damson trees
    Merryweather is a very popular damson, with unusually large fruit, one of the hardiest of fruit trees.
    • Picking season: Mid
    • Self-fertility: Self-fertile
  • Damson trees

    Shepherds Bullace

    A large-fruited bullace, used for cooking and preserves, similar to a damson.
    • Picking season: Late
    • Self-fertility: Self-fertile
  • Damson trees

    Shropshire Prune

    Shropshire Prune damson trees
    The definitive English damson, Shropshire Prune has the rich astringent flavour typical of damsons.
    • Picking season: Mid
    • Self-fertility: Self-fertile


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 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.

For more information about damsons, see Daiv Sizer's guide to damsons (PDF). Pruning guide for damsons - Pots 2 Plots.