plum that horticulturist Clay Weeks examines is part of ARS' official
collection of this fruit. Click the image for more information about
story to find out more.
World's Peaches, Plums Preserved in Unique
Collection By Marcia Wood
Exotic peaches and plums from around the globe are safeguarded
in greenhouses and orchards at America's official collection of these fruits.
Known formally as the ARS National Clonal Germplasm
Repository for Fruit and Nut Crops, it is a living treasury of both common
and uncommon peaches and plums.
From the repository's offices, laboratories and greenhouses at
Davis, Calif., it's only a short drive to the research orchards at Winters,
where about 750 peach trees and about 700 plums flourish.
Most of the peaches are varieties of Prunus persica, such
as the historically important "Shanghai" and "J.H. Hale," two varieties that
are in the parentage of nearly all of today's U.S.-grown peaches.
Other distinctive peaches include a white-fleshed cling peach
from Korea named "Yumyeong," and the red-fleshed "Sanguine de Tardiff " from
Predominant in the plum collection are the European plum,
Prunus domestica, produced as a fresh fruit or dried into prunes; and
the Japanese plum, P. salicina, typically sold in this country as a
Among the most unusual: the squat, green-apple-flavored P.
simonii from Asia; Europe's P. spinosa, of sloe gin fame; and the
North American P. hortulana, a stately ornamental tree. Also
distinctive: South Africa's "Laetitia," a P. salicina variety that bears
large fruit, and "Sans Noay," a pit-free French P. domestica plum
commonly dried into prunes.
From spring through fall, plant breeders inspect the collection
to choose varieties they can incorporate into their own fruit-breeding
programs. Researchers who are studying the genetic makeup of the world's plums
use leaf samples from the repository to extract DNA for their research. ARS
scientists at the repository conduct analyses of plum DNA as well, to be sure
all the plums in the collection are correctly identified and catalogued.
about the research in the April 2004 issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.