Elephant Heart- Queen of J. plums

And a temperamental queen she is in my S. NY climate. I have a tree trained over an Airstream trailer that is far from my most reliable J. plum. Usually it bears some fruit but when I’ve had large crops in the past, many of its fruit are damaged by something called pitch pockets- hard fleshed areas near the pits that vastly reduce the joy of eating them. This variety also takes as long as an average E. plum to come into bearing.

After being established in this spot for over a decade, this season produced its first bumper crop of mostly flawless fruit, and they are the very best J. plum I grow when they reach this quality.

Larger and meatier than Satsuma, Sat seems like a plain sister next to Elephant Heart at its best. EH was my favorite plum as a boy in S. CA.

Unfortunately, I gave away a few too many of the last of the crop which I harvested about 10 days ago. I didn’t realize how well they hold up their quality in refrigeration- fruit picked 20 days ago is still if firm and delicious, losing nothing in storage.

I could have been enjoying them at least until mid-Oct if I’d known. I believe the Zaigers may have used EH as part of the genetics of their best pluots- none of which I’ve found surpass a perfect Elephant Heart.


Elephant Heart is a great plum. Unfortunately I’ve only had store bought, and in five years haven’t been able to ripen any of my own – I grafted over most if it this past spring. Arboreum sometimes sells a sport of it called Broken Heart, which I guess tastes the same but is more visually appealing.

Yesterday the neighbor behind me saw me working in the garden and came out to tell me the plums I gave her were the best plums she ever had (she is in her 70’s). “Oh my God! I never tasted anything like your plums!!” I told her that is why I grow them, you can’t buy plums that good, and she agreed. They were pluots, but nobody knows what pluots are around here. Anyway I concur! I gave her the basics, FK,DD and FQ. I too am very happy with these. DD produces loads of large fruit every year, super reliable here. FK is very close too. It seems once the tree is mature, and after a few crops it produces fine here. I have to try EH, I will try to add it this next spring. Third year in a row of abundant pluots, life is good.

If you have not tried DD? It may at least grow there and give you very decent fruit. I added DJ, and DS, if anything like DD, are winners too. If you need wood, of any of those, PM in the winter. I need EH! Anybody have BH? Sounds, good too!

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My Dapple got fried the first winter or spring after the spring I planted it. My Flavor King bore this year but it had very little vegetative growth, so I’m concerned. Wish I could buy these things on Myro. I will take some of the FK wood and graft it to a plum on that.

Flavor Grenade has been pretty reliable for me, even on citation, but it had inadequate sugar this year in its spot of limited PM sun and with all our rain. Flavor King, nearby (but with a bit more sun) was much better.

I could use some DD wood and would happily exchange you for some Elephant Heart, although I can’t guarantee its reliability.

Great, i will contact you this winter. I feel I have to try myself on taste and growth habit. Everybody’s environment differs so much it is best to see for myself. And i have plenty of wood for whomever wants any.
I have at last been eliminating marginal fruit for this area, and growing what works. I will always experiment, but it is becoming a small piece as now I have discovered those gems that work, at least enough to be happy.

I didn’t grow fruit to give away, but must say the positive feedback sure makes you feel good about it.

My early EH plums had an interesting spicy flavor. Each bite started with the plum flavor and ended with a the spice flavor. The combination reminded me of potpourri. I haven’t noticed the spicy flavor on the last ones I harvested.

From left: Elephant Heart, Flavor King and Burgundy. All three are distinctly different and had relatively good flavor despite lack of sun and excessive rain this year.


Woohoo! Glad I have all three of these planted :smiley: And pics of your favorite fruits that you grow??

@alan and @AJfromElmiraNY,
When did you pick your Elephant Heart plums?. I have 3 EH plums for the first time this year. They are huge. I accidentally caused them dropped today. They are still hard so I think they are not ripe yet.

I picked my first EH and FK on September 9, 2018. I don’t have any this year.

Judging from other same plums you and I grow, I think mine dropped a week or two too early. My own darn fault. I will keep them on a counter for while before I eating them.

My Laroda plum are still on the tree. Last year, I picked them on Sept 16. It feels odd to have J plum ripens this late.

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Especially when it gets cold. It seems like they need heat to be good. One positive, I have no bird pressure in September.

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After finally bearing the best imaginable crop last year, my big 20 year old Elephant Heart came into this season weak and then started to die. It had a crop, but before obtaining true quality it finished its 4 month death scene- melodramatic to the end. Glory and finally tragedy.

Although it is as fickle as some prima-donna actress here, she will win another place in my orchard but not on the east side of my house with limbs spreading over my Air-stream trailer. The trapped moisture inspired too much black knot that was a pain to cut out from branches spreading over the top of the trailer. Plus, you have to feel each individual fruit before picking it (as is the case with many plums) to make sure they are at peak ripeness. Too many would drop off the tree, roll of the trailer and split on contact to the ground.

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I’ve tried to grow this plum in the South with no success
whatsoever. I’ve grafted this variety four different times,
and the grafts just won’t grow. They just sit there. I don’t
think it can take our heat.

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That is strange because it was my favorite when I was in S. CA and grown to some degree of success in interior valleys where 100 degree days are routine during growing and ripening season. I’ve always considered it a typical J. plum as far as tolerating heat. It is cold that can damage and kill it. Like its sister, Satsuma, it is subject to freeze related cambium damage which sometimes kills both of them as you get up to Z6 and colder. Damage depends on hardening at the time of cold temps, it seems.

Our heat is accompanied with extreme humidity that you won’t
find in California. It’s a different kind of heat. Other J plums do
well here. I just think EH is more suited to SoCal.

To my surprise, Elephant Heart has done pretty well here, but only on Chickasaw and Peach rootstocks;. Like @rayrose , I’ve tried grafting EH on many other trees, but all barley grew.

Ray, I’m on the east coast- I know the difference between desert heat and tropical heat, but most J. plums like the humidity just fine so don’t assume that’s the problem- even though it may be. JP may be onto a solution.

My Elephant Heart comparing to other plums to show size differences.

Top row EH, Castleton
2nd row - Coe’s Golden Drop (dropped, unripe), Opal and Mirabelle.


My first 3 EH plums from last year’s graft. I’ll wait a few days before eating.


This is my favorite plum. Very sweet, juicy, and crunchy.

I want to get a tree this year so I could hybridize them with sweet cherries.