Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Prunus domestica ‘Formosa’

A Prunus domestica L. cultivar. I have found no plum called ‘Formosa’ in the contemporary literature. It is possibly a variety of Prunus salicina Lindl., synonym Prunus triflora Roxb., the Japanese Plum, now quite commonly grown in warmer climates. 



Horticultural & Botanical History

Prunus salicina has been known in Europe botanically since 1822 but it does not appear as a fruit in 19th century European Pomologies and does not seem to have been grown as a fruit tree until late in the 19th century. ‘Notwithstanding the illustrious work of Kaempfer, Thunberg, Siebold and Fortune in sending to Europe the choicest plants of Japan and China, Prunus triflora seems to have reached the Old World through America at a very recent date. At least the species was not cultivated for its fruit in Europe until introduced from the United States as Japanese plums, and even yet they are but barely known in European orchards. The species was introduced into this country from Japan about 1870 by a Mr. Hough of Vacaville, California. According to Bailey, who has given much attention to these plums, Mr. Hough obtained his trees from a Mr. Bridges, United States Consul to Japan. John Kelsey, Berkeley, California, produced the first ripe fruit of the Triflora plums in America in 1876 and 1877, and impressed by their value began recommending them.’ [Plums of New York p.51].

It seems that the Japanese Plum could only have been grown at Camden by 1857 if it had been imported directly from Asia, which is possible but unlikely. It seems more likely that ‘Formosa’ is an as yet unidentified variety of Prunus domestica L.



History at Camden Park

Listed in Addenda to the 1857 catalogue as ‘Formosa’ [Plum no.15/1857].




Macarthur’s plum ‘Formosa’ is not the plum of that name bred by Luther Burbank towards the end of the 19th century.



Published May 27, 2010 - 03:22 PM | Last updated Jul 21, 2011 - 05:22 PM

Family Rosaceae
Region of origin

Garden origin, unknown

Common Name


Name in the Camden Park Record




Confidence level low