©The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
May 2004, August 2006, Feb 2013, Jan 2014

Prunus andersonii
Inyo Co., CA
Apr 2004

Prunus emarginata
Lassen NF, CA
May 2006


Prunus emarginata

Kern Co.: Greenhorn Mts., Rancheria Road, mixed conifer forest, CNPS Chapter field trip, 25 May 2013

Prunus fasciculata
San Bernardino Co. Clark Mt., CA
June 2006

Prunus fasciculata
San Bernardino Co., CA
Spjut & Marin14724
, Apr 2002


Prunus fasciculata
Mojave Desert, Kern Co.,
Jawbone Canyon, CA
Apr 2011

Prunus fasciculata
Mojave Desert, Clark Co.,
Spring Mts., NV
Apr 2005

Prunus aff. fasciculata
Mojave Desert, San Bernardino Co.,
Mesquite Mts., CA. Apr 2005.
 Long leaves & pedicels

Prunus fasciculata
Joshua Tree Natl. Park, CA
Mar 2005


Prunus fremontii
Near San Vicente, BCN
Spjut & Marin5288
, Feb 1979


Prunus fremontii
CA: Western edge of Sonoran Desert,
San Diego Co., 10 mi east of Jacumba
Spjut 16193
, Feb 2008


Prunus virginiana var. melanocarpa
Kern Co.: Greenhorn Mts., CA
Between Glendale and Greenhorn Pass, Hwy 155
4 May 2011, Photo by Clyde Golden

Prunus virginiana var. melanocarpa
Jarbidge, NV
June 2005


Prunus harvardii
Brewster Co., TX
Big Bend Natl. Park
Spjut & Marin15123, Nov 2002


Trees and Shrubs of Kern County (Dec 2012)

Key to Prunus

1. Flowers/fruits on pedicels in terminal or axillary simple to branched
elongated scapes; plants not thorny.................................................................... 2

1. Flowers/fruits on pedicels clustered or solitary on short spurt shoots
among leaves; plants with thorny branches......................................................... 4


2. Leaves evergreen, spiny along margins......................................... Prunus ilicifolia

2. Leaves deciduous, minutely toothed to entire along margins.................................... 3


3. Flowers/fruits mostly in cylindrical terminal clusters; leaves generally
well spaced on long branches, more strongly narrowed to apex
than to base........... ...................................................             Prunus virginiana

3. Flowers/fruits in sub-umbellate axillary and terminal clusters; leaves
in clusters on short spur shoots, often more strongly narrowed
to base than to apex.............................................. ............... Prunus emarginata


4. Leaves almost thread-like, in fascicles; fruits dry, brown and
furry....................................................................................... Prunus fasciculata

4. Leaves elliptical to round; fruits fleshy, reddish......................................................... 5


5. Flowers usually pinkish red; leaves narrow elliptic, 2–3× longer than
wide, 1–2 cm long.................................................................. Prunus andersonii

5. Flowers white; leaves broad  elliptic to heart-shaped, 1–1.5× longer
than wide, 2–5 cm long........................................................... Prunus subcordata


Prunus andersonii A. Gray 1868. Desert peach. Deciduous shrub or tree to 6 m, often colonial, with zigzag stems and short stiff spiny branches, branching at right angles, the longer branches arching (curving downwards); leaves alternate, in fascicles on knobby spur shoots, elliptical or wider above mid region, 2–3× longer than wide, tapering more narrowly towards base than apex, 1–2 cm long; flowering Mar–Apr, the flowers numerous, appearing with the leaves, rose, solitary or few in clusters on leafy spur shoots with pedicels usually 6–8 mm long; fruit similar to that of the almond, a nuculanium hanging from a curved pedicel, rounded in outline, ~12 mm diam., the pulp thin, covered with dark brown hairs, splitting incompletely upon drying and exposing a stone.  Rocky slopes in pinyon-juniper desert regions to Nevada, 3,000–7,600 ft. Type from foothills from eastern side of Sierra Nevada near Carson City, NV. Kern Co.: Scarce in desert-facing canyons in the pinyon woodland and the arid shrub association”, Horse Canyon, Short Canyon, Cane Brake Creek east of Walker Pass, and Bath House Canyon near Kernville (Twisselmann); also reported from Indian Wells Canyon (Fraga et al.), Onyx (Epling & Anderson), east base of Piute Mt., Bob rabbit site (Shevock) and Cameron (M. E. Jones), 914–1,707 m (CCH).

Prunus emarginata (Cerasus emarginata Douglas 1832) Eaton 1836. Bitter cherry. Deciduous shrub or tree to 9 m with gray to reddish brown shiny twigs with wart-like whitish lenticels; leaves in alternate clusters, broadly elliptical to slightly wider above mid region, more narrowly tapered to base than apex, 3–5× longer than wide, indented and with minute glandular teeth along margins, and with 1 or 2 larger glands near the base of the blade; flowers 3–10 on pedicels 3–12 mm, arising in an umbel like arrangement from a short reddish flowering scape; fruit a red to purple drupe, the pulp fleshy.  Moist rocky places below 9,000 ft, California to British Columbia,  Montana, New Mexico and Baja California. Type from outskirts of woods near the Grand Rapids, Columbia  River. Bitter cherry thickets provisionally recognized in MCV2.  Kern Co.: Common at higher elevations, often growing in dense colonies along the summit ridges, occasionally descending to the chaparral and the Douglas oak woodland (Twisselmann); 1,066–2,409 m (CCH).

Prunus fasciculata (Emplectocladus fasciculatus Torrey 1853) A. Gray 1874 var. fasciculata. Desert almond. Densely branched shrub to 3 m high and broad; bran—gradually widened from base to ~ 5× longer than its widest part, arching or curving downwards; leaves in alternate fascicles, deciduous, narrowly wedge-shaped, 5–25 mm long; flowers Mar–May, inconspicuous, on short spur shoots, solitary to few on pedicels 0.5–3 mm, petals 1.4–3 mm; fruit more conspicuous than flowers, a fuzzy brownish ovoid nuculanium, 7–12 mm long.  Common in desert washes, generally from the yucca to the pine-juniper woodlands (2,500 to 6,500 ft), extending to Arizona and Utah. Type from Sierra Nevada. Desert almond scrub recognized in MCV2 when ≥2& absolute cover in the shrub canopy; > 25% total cover except Gutierrezia sarothrae.  Kern Co.: Common, notably in Jawbone Canyon and Pine Tree Canyon (Twisselmann), 609–1,585 m (CCH). Image from Jawbone Canyon, showing tent caterpillar larvae.

 Prunus fremontii S. Watson 1880. Desert apricot. Mostly on mountain slopes bordering the Sonoran Desert from San Jacinto Mts. south to Las Virgenes in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Type from Oriflamme Canyon, San Diego Co., CA.  Two collections in CCH reported from Kern Co. are far north of the range reported for the species, thus, questionable; one by Perkins from 5 miles east of [Lake] Isabella (23 Arp 1937), and another by G. Thomas Robbins from 0.5 miles west of Walker Pass (store) along Hwy 178 at 4,502 ft in an Artemisia-Chrysothamnus association (7 Apr 1950).

Prunus ilicifolia (Cerasus ilicifolia Nuttall ex Hooker & Arnott 1841) D. Dietrich 1842. Holly-leaf cherry. Evergreen shrub or tree reddish when young, graying with age, bark on trees brown and scaly; upper branches wide spreading, slender; leaves elliptical to heart-shaped, 1–2× longer than wide, 2–5 cm long, often curled upwards across the surface, shiny green above, conspicuously toothed along margins, on leaf stalks (petioles) 8–12 mm; flowering Apr-May, flowers conspicuous on long flowering scapes with as many as 15 flowers, the petals white, 3–6 cm; fruit an ovoid to ellipsoid red to rarely yellow drupe, 12–15 mm. A chaparral and woodland species on dry slopes in the Coast Ranges of California and Baja California.  Type from Santa Barbara Co., CA. Holly leaf chaparral recognized in MCV2 when >50% relative cover in the shrub canopy. Kern Co.: “Occasional in chaparral on the northwest flank of Mt. Abel”, and an extensive colony was noted “in an unusual arboreal form in Temblor Canyon” (Twisselmann), appearing to correspond to two records in CCH from Cuddy Canyon and Cherry spring at 610 m.

Prunus subcordata Bentham 1849. Sierra plum. Deciduous shrub or tree to 7 m, often in thickets, stems gray, crooked, branching at right angles, and with  many sharply pointed branchlets; leaves simple, not in clusters, alternate, broad elliptical to heart-shaped, 1–1.5× longer than wide, 2–5 cm, irregularly curled upwards, on red leaf stalks (petiole) 4–18 mm, margins finely serrated with 2 glands on each side near petiole; flowering Mar–May, flowers in clusters on short pedicels, 5–15 mm, petals white, 5–10 mm; fruit (drupe) yellow to dark red.  Mixed-evergreen and conifer forests below 6,000 ft; Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada foothills to Kern Co. where Twisselmann reported it as “occasional in the Greenhorn Range, scarce south to Black Bob Canyon”, 1067–1,554 m. Type from Sierra Nevada, probably American River, CA.  One collection in CCH reported from the Greenhorn Mts. at 3,000 may have been from Tulare County, collected by D. Howe, 1 Jun 1947.

Prunus virginiana Linnaeus 1753 var. demissa (Cerasus demissa Nuttall 1840) Torrey 1874 [Prunus demissa (Nuttall) Walper 1843]. Choke cherry.  Deciduous thorn-less shrub or small tree  to 10 m with pale reddish bark; leaves on reddish to greenish petioles 10–25 mm with 1 or 2 glands near the base of the blade, elliptic to wider above the mid region, 2–3× longer than wide, 3–10 cm, margins serrate; flowering Apr–Jun; flowers white, numerous in narrow cylindrical clusters 5–10 cm long, on pedicels 5–8 mm or more, petals 4–7 mm; fruit (drupe) red to black, 6–14 mm diam. edible with a bitter taste.  Moist slopes in brushy canyons, oak-pine woodlands, conifer forests below 9,000 ft in the montane regions of California to British Columbia, to Montana and south to northern Mexico. Type from the “Plains of the Oregon [Columbia River] towards the sea, and at the mouth of the Wahlamer.  Kern Co.: “Occasional in the mountains from the Douglas oak woodland through the Jeffrey pine forest; scarce in the  San Emigdio Range”, and with an isolated colony at Rock Spring in McLean Canyon, Temblor  Range (Twisselmann), 793–1,892 m.

Pharmaceutical References

Amico V., V. Barresi, D. Condorelli, C. Spatafora and C. Tringali.  2006. Antiproliferative terpenoids from almond hulls (Prunus dulcis): identification and structure-activity relationships. J. Agric. Food Chem. 54(3): 810–814. “Bioassay-guided fractionation of the EtOAc crude extract from Sicilian almond hulls, a waste material from Prunus dulcis crop, allowed identification of 10 constituents, isolated as pure compounds (1-5, 7, and 10) or unseparable mixtures (5 + 6 and 8 + 9). All compounds were subjected to spectroscopic analysis and 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide bioassay on MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. In addition to the main components oleanolic (1), ursolic (2), and betulinic (3) acids, the 2-hydroxy analogues alphitolic (4), corosolic (5), and maslinic (6) acids, as well as the related aldehydes, namely, betulinic (7), oleanolic (8), and ursolic (9), were identified. From a more polar fraction, the beta-sitosterol 3-O-glucoside (10) was also identified. A sample of commercially available betulin (11) was also included in bioassays as further support to a structure-activity relationship study. Betulinic acid showed antiproliferative activity toward MCF-7 cells (GI50 = 0.27 microM), higher than the anticancer drug 5-fluorouracil.

Jeong J. T., J. H. Moon, K. H. Park and C. S. Shin.  2006. Isolation and characterization of a new compound from Prunus mume fruit that inhibits cancer cells. J. Agric. Food Chem. 54(6): 2123–2128.  “An active compound that inhibits cancer cells was isolated from the fruit of Prunus mume, and its structure and in vitro activities were characterized. The n-hexane fraction obtained from methanol extracts exhibited the strongest inhibitory effect on the growth of cancer cells. From the n-hexane fraction, a new compound named B-1 was purified through preparative thin-layer chromatography, ODS column chromatography, and reverse phase high-performance liquid chromatography and its structure was analyzed by fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry and 1H and 13C NMR. The molecular formula of B-1 was C19H22O6 {2-hydroxy-1-[(7-hydroxy-2-oxo-2H-chromen-6-yl)methyl]-2-methylpropyl-(2Z)-3-methyl-but-e-enoate:prunate}, and the IC50 value was in the range of 39-58 microg/mL in descending order of the cancer cell lines Hep-2, SW-156, HEC-1-B, and SK-OV-3. B-1 exhibited 81-96% inhibition at a concentration level of 100 microg/mL against all cells, based on an 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay. However, B-1 showed little effect against normal cells with only 23% or less growth inhibition at 100 microg/mL. Thus, B-1 has a highly specific inhibitory effect against cancer cells but little effect against normal cells. When the cancer cell lines Hep-2 and SK-OV-3 were incubated with B-1 for 72 h, most of the tested cells suffered strong growth inhibition. The compound has the potential to be developed as a nutraceutical.

Otsuka T., T. Tsukamoto, H. Tanaka, K. Inada, H. Utsunomiya, T. Mizoshita, T. Kumagai, T. Katsuyama, K. Miki and M. Tatematsu. 2005. Suppressive effects of fruit-juice concentrate of Prunus mume Sieb. et Zucc. (Japanese apricot, Ume) on Helicobacter pylori-induced glandular stomach lesions in Mongolian gerbils. Asian Pac. J. Cancer Prev. 6(3): 337–341.  “Helicobacter pylori (Hp) infection is an important factor in human gastric disorders, including chronic active gastritis, peptic ulcers, intestinal metaplasia and cancer. Since epidemiologic studies overwhelmingly agree on a protective influence of fruits and vegetables in reducing the risk of gastric neoplasia and processed foods made from Prunus mume Sieb. et Zucc. (Japanese apricot or "Ume" in Japanese) are traditionally known for their miscellaneous medical effects, in the present study we investigated the efficacy of a fruit-juice concentrate of Japanese apricot (CJA) in the glandular stomach of Hp-infected Mongolian gerbils. Hp-inoculated gerbils were given CJA in their drinking water at concentrations of 1 and 3% for 10 weeks. The microscopic scores for gastritis and mucosal hyperplasia in the CJA groups were significantly lower than in the Hp-inoculated control group, with dose-dependence. Real-time PCR was performed to quantitate Hp by demonstrating urease A gene amount using gerbils glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) gene as an internal control. Average relative urease A gene dosage in the glandular stomach in the 1 and 3% CJA and Hp-inoculated control groups was 26.6 +/- 11.6% (average +/- SE), 30.3 +/- 10.5%, 100 +/- 40.9%, respectively, the fruit-juice concentrate causing significant lowering (P<0.01 and P<0.05, respectively, with 1 and 3%). These findings suggest that suppressive effects on gastric cancer development might also be expected as a result of decreased numbers of Hp and improvement of Hp-induced chronic active gastritis on administration of CJA.

Riu-Aumatell M., E. Lopez-Tamames and S. Buxaderas. 2005. Assessment of the volatile composition of juices of apricot, peach, and pear according to two pectolytic treatments. J. Agric. Food Chem. 53(20): 7837–7843.  “The behavior of volatile compounds according to two enzymatic treatments applied during the manufacture of fruit juice is described. More than 80 compounds were detected of a wide range of chemical families (alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, terpenoids, esters, norisoprenoids, ...). Theaspirane and alpha-isophoron were tentatively identified for the first time in apricot and peach fruits. The enzymes used, for extraction or clarification of fruit juices, modified the polysaccharides separated by molecular weight and the content of soluble polysaccharides. This could indicate differences in the fruit juice matrix, which could be related to observed changes in the volatile profile. In apricot, the enzymes enhanced the juice in terpenes and norisoprenoids as varietal compounds. In peach and pear, the enzymes used did not favor the amount of lactones and decadienoate esters, the character impact compounds, respectively.

Utsunomiya H., T. Yamakawa, J. Kamei, K. Kadonosono and S. Tanaka. 2005. Anti-hyperglycemic effects of plum in a rat model of obesity and type 2 diabetes, Wistar fatty rat.  Biomed. Res. 26(5): 193–200.  “Dried plums, considered a healthy food in the West and used as medicine in India, contain phenolic compounds with protective actions against age-related diseases. Effects of oral plum ekisu (concentrated juice) on lipid and glucose tolerance were assessed in insulin-resistant obese Wistar fatty rats. Plum ingestion decreased blood glucose (P < 0.05) and plasma triglyceride concentrations (P < 0.01) compared with controls. Plum treatment for 2 weeks reduced areas under the curve (AUCs) for glucose and insulin during a glucose tolerance test. In db/db mice, plum decreased these AUCs, and also blood glucose during an insulin tolerance test. Plum treatment significantly increased plasma adiponectin concentrations and PPARgamma mRNA expression in adipose tissue from Wistar fatty rats. Plum thus may increase insulin sensitivity in these rats via adiponectin-related mechanisms.

Prunus persica