I just realized that I haven’t posted in recent photos of my Toole’s Heirloom Chickasaw Plum here yet. For sure, I should get a lot of good photos of the plums this year because the tree is loaded, and so far the fruit has not been damaged by curculios. It’s still early because Toole’s Heirloom ripens pretty late, late June. Things can still happen, but the fruit is beautiful. If anything I really need to do some thinning.
Toole’s Heirloom is a Chickasaw type plum that my dad brought home to the house I grew up in when I was a child. I’m not sure of its origin but likely he got it from a family member or one of his customers. There used to be a local Chickasaw variety in the area that was passed around in the local African American community called the Bouie plum. I keep running into people who remember it, but no-one as seen one in a long time and no-one knows anyone who still has one. It’s possible the Toole’s Heirloom is a Bouie plum. It could be an Odom although it looks a little different from the Odoms posted above. Anyway, I should definitely get good pictures this year. Those of you who have Odom plums, it would be good to see a pick of the inside of the plum. While Toole’s Heirloom is mostly red with a little orange, the inside is a distinct greenish yellow. Toole’s Heirloom is very sweet, quite a bit sweeter but not as big as of fruit as Robusto.
The landscape photo features my three mature plum trees. All three trees are loaded with limb bending crops of plums. The big tree in the Middle is Mariana which is usually grown as a rootstock for European plums but makes a fabulous cherry plum with a small pit relative to the size of the fruit. It’s my best tasting plum and the earliest to ripen. It’s not a Chickasaw type but is a hybrid between the Munson plum P. monsonia and the Maribailan plum, P. carisefera. My tree is seven years old and is 25 ft tall and 30 foot across. It is by far the largest plum tree I have ever seen, and it’s not even that old. The reputation of Mariana is that it has delicious small fruit but is not very productive. That’s exactly how I would have described it until this year. Up until last year it was apparently pollinized by Green Gage which died in fall 2016. Last year Mariana bloomed profusely but did not set fruit telling me that it’s not self fertile or cross fertile with the Asian hybrid Robusto or the Chickasaw Toole’s Heirloom. Mariana does not bloom with Munson, the parent that can take a South Georgia climate. But it does bloom with the wild hog plum which is a very, very close relative according to taxonomists. I brought hog plum flowers into my yard, and this year Mariana is not just producing but is producing a bumper crop. Mariana ripens mid to late May. Here’s a close up photo:
The Robusto plum which looks like a big bush under Mariana to the left, is dwarfed and somewhat shaded by it’s much larger neighbor. Oddly, the side of Robusto that is overshadowed by Mariana is the side that produces the most and largest plums. You can look at Robusto and taste the plums and tell that it’s more Chickasaw than anything else. The plums are large, but when eaten fresh the pallet says “Chickasaw”. My early sense from watching how one year old grafts of Robusto are acting on Toole’s Heirloom rootstock is that Robusto is a smaller more wild Chickasaw looking tree than Toole’s Heirloom or even Guthrie and Odom for that matter. Here is a close up photo:
So far my impression is that Toole’s Heirloom and Robusto are both better pollinized by wild Chickasaw plums than by each other. God bless.