Edible Cherry Plum

Zillah and I were up in London the past few days visiting family and friends and doing a bit of ‘business’, talking and meeting people who are at the cutting edge of community healthcare using food and plants for healing.

While wandering around on the top of Putney Common looking out for wild edibles, we chanced upon a wonderfully abundant Cherry Plum tree. Literally dripping with fruit.

Out came my trusty bag, and I made my way through the undergrowth to the base of the tree.

Not being that much of a youngster, well physically at least, I looked up with Doe like eyes, and saw the harvest above me, just begging to be picked. Yet people had obviously just walked on by, not even noticing the bounty right next to them.

Usually I would have laid a sheet underneath the tree and shaken the branches to release the fruit. Instead I had to negotiate climbing a six foot metal fence, and perch precariously on a single horizontal iron bar on top.

I barely had to touch the fruit to release it, and within 5 minutes had harvested around 2lbs of edible Cherry Plums. The tree continues to be laden with fruit.

After scrambling back down the fence, I realised just how flexible foraging has made my 45 year old body, and all without really working at it. Regular foraging has given back to me some of the flexibility I had when I was a lot younger. And I am deeply grateful for the many health benefits that foraging has bestowed upon me. The health benefits go way beyond ‘just filling the belly’.

The taste of Cherry Plum is a mixture of cherries and plums, hence the name. However I would say that they have a similar texture and sweetness to greengages.

Cherry Plum is not strictly a wild edible, because it was cultivated for its fruit before humans discovered other more rewarding fruit trees. Yet it is an overlooked fruit tree that is worthy of your attention. You will often find it being grown in suburban gardens for its ability to shield properties from the general public and because of its decorative foliage.

I love eating my fruits raw, but if you are a ‘jam monster’ try this delicious cherry plum jam recipe.

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  1. I cut the grass for a Local Authority in a highly urban area and each year I am stared at as I stand on top of the machine to reach the fruit, as the crowns are raised to prevent injury to pedestrians on the pavement, passers-by think I’m the weird one. I did once, at a superstore, get a convert. A mother, whose son was watching me as his mum loaded the car, asked to try some and took her store bought ones back there and then. Came back and joined me on the wall I was stood on, continually commenting on the money she was saving- I held my tongue and hoped that she would become more enlightened as time went on.

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