Though plums arose in China just as peaches and nectarines did, most of the plums sold in the U.S. and Canada are known as Japanese plums, with the scientific name Prunus salicina. These plums are rounded in shape, with some having a small pointed tip and have a wide range of skin colors, including shades of red, black, green or purple. The first Japanese plums came to California from Japan in 1870.
European plums, with the scientific name Prunus domestica, are also grown in California. These plums are oval- or teardrop-shaped, have purple to blue skin and are smaller than Japanese plums. California’s dried prune industry is based on certain varieties of this type. Early settlers brought this plum to the United States.