Coming to trees, hedgerows and orchards near you soon : snowy white damson blossom – surely the prettiest and most alluring of all the stone fruit flowers (oh, alright, cherries, plums and apples have their charms too!)
In The Plums of England (Crosby Lockwood, 1949), HV Taylor describes The Plum Blossom and Pollination:
‘The flower of the plum is made up of five petals and is about one inch across, and pure white in most varieties, but tinted green and yellow in a few. Exceptionally there may be six petals, and sometimes only four.
The petals merely serve the purpose of attracting bees and other insects which help in the pollinating processes. When pollination has been effected the petals drop to the ground.
Within the cycle of petals there are thirty stamens (arranged in three whorls) – thread like bodies about ¾ inch long, standing upright, and each carrying at the top the anthers or sacs, full of little pollen grains. From two to four days after the flowers open the sacs burst, and the little yellow pollen grains are liberated and ready to perform the fertilization processes.
Within the whorl of stamens is the pistil, also about ¾ inch long standing erect from the very centre of the flower. This female organ is primrose in colour, but at maturity the colour intensifies and the somewhat swollen tip (the stigma) becomes sticky – a method devised by Nature to catch and germinate the pollen.
No doubt the pollen grains may fall onto the stigma naturally; others are placed there by bees and other insects that visit the flower in search of sugar. Such pollen grains as reach a receptive stigma are held fast in the sticky fluid and stimulated to germinate, which they do by sending out a germ-tube that penetrates down through the style and makes a passage for the male cell to travel down and fuse with the egg-cell, thus completing the fertilization.’
Enjoy damson blossom on a single or stand of trees, or at a special celebratory event:
Damson Day LythValley, near Kendal, Cumbria LA8 8DJ
Saturday 11 April
Hanami Festival Day Brogdale National Fruit Collection, near Faversham, Kent
Saturday 11 April, 11am – 3pm
Blossoming Brockhampton Brockhampton Estate, near Bromyard, Worcestershire
18 April to 9 May, 11am – 4pm
Wouldn’t it be great to capture and keep the fleeting beauty of the blossom?
See what Ruby Robin puts in her window lockets.