The taxonomic history of Prunus is long and complicated, in part due to the economic value of its fruit crops and also the ease with which some species hybridize. Here, Prunus is circumscribed in its broad sense based on the argument that when viewed on a worldwide scale, the morphologic discontinuities among the segregate genera diminish and they overlap with one another. Included here are species that have at times been placed in the genera Amygdalus, Armeniaca, Cerasus, Laurocerasus, Padus, and Persica.
At the species level, Prunus has been the object of the usual combining and splitting common among taxonomists with different philosophies and opinions. In particular, over-reliance on the indument of various vegetative and floral parts has led to the naming of numerous species and infraspecific taxa. Similarly, too much has been made of fruit colour and palatability in naming taxa of Prunus. It is very likely that, as molecular and genetic data are analyzed and, more importantly, correlated with morphological data, circumscriptions will be redrawn and the number of Prunus species will be reduced[
Amygdalus mongolica (Maxim.) Ricker
Prunus mongolica is a much-branched, deciduous shrub growing 100 - 200cm tall[
The plant has potential for use in land restoration schemes within its native habitat in order to prevent and reverse desertification[
E. Asia - southern Mongolia, northern China (Gansu, Nei Monggol, Ningxia)
Hill lands in desert or desert grasslands, stony slopes, dry river beds; at elevations from 1,000 - 2,400 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Prunus mongolica occurs in arid and semi-arid habitats where mean annual rainfall can be 280mm or less. Summers are very hot, with temperatures up to 40°c, whilst winters are very cold, down to -30°c[
Requires a sunny postion in a very freely draining soil[
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being[
Being very tolerant of arid climates and poor soils, the plant has been recommended for use in land reclamation projects within its native range in order to halt and reverse desertification of the region caused by overgrazing[
Seed - requires 2 - 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[
]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible[
]. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, mid summer in a frame[
Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame[
Layering in spring.