Herbs & Plants

Prunus brigantina

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Botanical Name : Prunus brigantina
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Amygdaloideae
Genus: Prunus
Species: P. brigantina
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

*Armeniaca brigantiaca (Vill.) Pers. 1806
*Prunus brigantiaca Vill. 1789
*Prunus chamaecerasus Jacq. 1786

Common Names: Briançon apricot, Marmot plum, and Alpine apricot

Habitat : Prunus brigantina is native to Europe – S.E. France. It grows on dry stony slopes in the Maritime and Cottian Alps.

Prunus brigantina is a deciduous Tree growing to 6 m (19ft 8in).
It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, growing well on limestone. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position. Three shrubs at Kew in September 1993 were about 1.5 metres tall and still had a few fruits on them, though there was evidence that they had carried a large crop. They fruited well again in 1994. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.

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, July/August in a frame. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Layering in spring.
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Fruit; Oil; Seed.

Fruit – raw or cooked. A yellow plum about 3cm in diameter with a single large seed. Scarcely edible according to one report, but we found it to have a pleasant mealy texture and a sweet flavour. We have found it bearing quite freely, even on young trees no more than 6 years old. An edible oil called ‘huille des marmottes’ is obtained from the seed. It is used as an olive oil substitute in France. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes below on toxicity.
Medicinal Uses:
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.
Other Uses:
Dye; Oil.

The oil obtained from the seed is also used for lighting. It is aromatic. A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit.
Known Hazards: Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.