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Shrub or tree 2–8 m; generally not suckering. Bark dark grey to black. Branchlets green, then yellowish brown to reddish brown; spines present or absent. Leaves deciduous, (1.5–)4–5(–6) × (0.5–)2–4 cm, ovate to elliptic, upper surface dark green and glabrous, lower surface pale green with tufts of hair in the vein axils, margin serrate, apex acute to rounded; leaves turning lemon-yellow in autumn; petiole 0.4–1 cm long; stipules caducous. Flowers white, fragrant, 5-merous, 1.5–2.5 cm diameter, appearing before the leaves; hypanthium pinkish green, sepals reflexed, green with pink margins, petals almost circular, concave, 1.4–1.8 cm diameter, stamens ~20. Fruit a yellow, pink, red or blue plum, 1–1.5 cm diameter. Dzhangaliev et al. 2003. Distribution KAZAKHSTAN; KYRGYZSTAN; TAJIKISTAN; UZBEKISTAN (?). Habitat Forest and scrub in river valleys and mountain slopes, between 800 and 2200 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 4. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration NT664, NT666. Taxonomic note This little-known taxon may be synonymous with P. cerasifera Ehrh. subsp. divaricata (Ledeb.) C.K. Schneid.
Whatever its true nomenclatural position, Prunus sogdiana is essentially a central Asian member of the P. cerasifera alliance, and looks like it: in other words, it is a pretty, hardy little tree with abundant white blossom, followed by tasty plums. Its decorative qualities are highly praised by those who grow it. A multistemmed tree of 7.4 m in the Hillier Gardens, raised from seed sent by the Moscow Botanical Garden ‘about forty years ago’ (A. Coombes, pers. comm. 2008), seems to be the earliest recorded specimen in western cultivation. A recent batch of seedlings raised by Tim Whiteley at Evenley Wood, Northamptonshire have turned out to have fruits of different colours: the tree at Evenley Wood (illustrated here) has red fruits, while at Hergest Croft another two from the batch have purple or yellow fruits. These trees have currently reached c.1.8 m, from planting in 2004, first fruiting in 2007 at Hergest Croft, and are described by Lawrence Banks (pers. comm. 2008) as being ‘spectacular’ in flower in late March.