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Genus Prunus Family Rosaceae

Synonyms: Pygeum APNI*
Amygdalus APNI*

Description: Trees or shrubs, mostly deciduous, flowers usually appearing in spring before the leaves. Stipules absent.

Flowers perigynous. Petals usually pink or white. Stamens 20–30. Carpel solitary, seated in the cup-shaped hypanthium; ovules 2 per carpel but becoming 1 by abortion.

Drupe usually fleshy and edible, often furrowed on one side, 1-seeded.


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 430 species, cosmopolitan, mainly northern temperate. Australia: >10 species, (all but 1 species naturalised), Qld, N.S.W., Vic., Tas., S.A., W.A. [including Amygdalus, Cerasus, Laurocerasus, Padus and Pygeum]

Many species are cultivated in cooler climates for their fruits or as ornamentals. Some species have become established along roadsides after the seeds have been discarded; rarely fully naturalised. Prunus has previously been placed in family Amygdalaceae.

Text by G.J. Harden & A.N. Rodd, Flora of New South Wales Vol. 1 (1990); last revised May 2017 (PGK)
Taxon concept: Australian Plant Census (accessed May 2017)

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Prunus avium,    Prunus campanulata,    Prunus domestica

 Key to the species 
1Fruit mostly more than 15 mm diam., usually furrowed on one side, usually pruinose, sometimes pubescent; terminal bud present or absent; flowers 1–3, appearing before the deciduous leaves2
Fruit mostly less than 15 mm diam., neither furrowed nor pruinose; terminal bud present; inflorescence many-flowered, either a raceme more than 6 cm long or flowers in more or less umbel-like clusters; either leaves not deciduous or flowers appearing after leaves have developed5
2Flowers and fruits on pedicels more than 5–15 mm long3
Flowers and fruits more or less sessile
                       Back to 1
4
3Petioles without glands; margins of leaves evenly and regularly toothed, teeth more or less acute; flower buds not enclosed in conspicuous brownish bractsPrunus cerasifera
Petioles with glands; margins of leaves doubly toothed (teeth of 2 sizes), larger teeth more or less obtuse; flower clusters enclosed in conspicuous brownish bracts in bud, these persisting around flower pedicels
                       Back to 2
Prunus cerasus
4Leaves oblong to more or less lanceolate; petiole often with glands near apex; stone deeply pitted and furrowedPrunus persica
Leaves broad-ovate to more or less circular; petiole without glands; stone smooth with a thickened furrowed edge
                       Back to 2
Prunus armeniaca
5Glands usually present on petioles; deciduous plants6
Petioles without glands; evergreen plants
                       Back to 1
8
6Flowers in umbels; margins of leaves doubly toothed, larger teeth more or less roundedPrunus cerasus
Flowers in racemes; margins of leaves regularly and finely toothed, teeth similar in size
                       Back to 5
7
7Leaves usually more than 5 cm long, oblong-elliptic to obovate; teeth acutePrunus serotina
Leaves usually less than 5 cm long, broad-ovate to more or less circular; teeth rounded
                       Back to 6
Prunus mahaleb
8Margins of leaves crenate-toothed; racemes exceeding leavesPrunus lusitanica
Margins of leaves remotely small-toothed, sometimes more or less entire; racemes shorter than leaves
                       Back to 5
Prunus laurocerasus

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