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Pocket plum is a fungal infection of the young fruits of plums, damsons and some ornamental species, causing them to develop abnormally, without stones.
Pocket plum. Image: RHS, Horticultural Science
Pocket plum is the name given to abnormally developed fruit of plums, damsons and some ornamental Prunus species. It is caused by an infection by the fungus Taphrina pruni, which prevents development of the stone and renders the fruit worthless. Distorted fruits appear from midsummer.
You may see the following symptoms:
The fungus may also cause witches’ brooms (dense clusters of live and dead twigs).
The disease can be controlled by thoroughly removing infected branches, witches’ brooms and fruit before spores are produced. Since spores are airborne, this will not completely eliminate the risk of new infections if there are other Prunus species nearby, but it will reduce the threat.
There are no fungicides available to amateur gardeners for the control of pocket plum.
The fungus causing pocket plum is related to the pathogen causing peach leaf curl and it is assumed there is a similar life cycle, but it has been little studied.
It is thought that airborne spores released from the fungal bloom on the fruit lodge in bark and bud scales, where they grow without causing infection until the following spring. The fungus then invades the plant tissues, causing the swollen and deformed shoots and remaining in these as mycelium (the microscopic thread-like body of the fungus). In subsequent years it then invades the flowers and developing fruit.
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