Prune. Prunus domestica.
Prune. Prunum. N. F. IV. Prunes. Pruneau noir, Fr. Cod. Pflaume, Zwetsche, Gr.—"The partly dried ripe fruit of Prunus domestica Linné (Fam. Rosaceae)." N. F. IV. U.S. VIII. "The dried ripe fruits of Prunus domestica Linn., var. Juliana, DC." Br.
Prunus domestica or the cultivated prune or plum tree is so well known as to render a minute description unnecessary. The varieties of the tree produced by cultivation are very numerous. Nearly one hundred are to be found in the British gardens. Though at present growing wild in various parts of Europe, it is thought to have been brought originally from Asia Minor and Syria. It is the partly dried ripe fruits only that are official in the N. F. IV. They are officially described as "oblong, ellipsoidal, more or less compressed, 3 to 4 cm. long; externally brownish-black, shrivelled; the sarcocarp sweet and acidulous; putamen hard, smooth or irregularly ridged; the seed, shaped like that of the almond but smaller and of a bitter-almond taste." N. F. IV. The prunes brought to our market come chiefly from the south of France, the best from Bordeaux. They are derived from the variety of the tree named Juliana by Linnaeus. The fresh fruit, called Prune de Saint-Julien by the French, is of an oval shape, nearly an inch in length, and of a deep violet color. It is prepared by drying in the sun, after having been exposed to the heat of an oven. The finest prunes, used on the tables of France, are prepared from the larger kind of plums, such as the Saint Catharine, and Reine Claude or greengage. An inferior sort is brought from Germany.
Prunes have a feeble odor, and a sweet mucilaginous taste, which is generally also somewhat acid. They contain uncrystallizable sugar, malic acid, and mucilaginous matter. The following is given as the average of nine analyses of dried prunes. Water 29.30 per cent., nitrogenous material 2.35 per cent., fat 0.53 per cent., free acid 2.72 per cent., sugar 44.35 per cent., other nitrogen-free material 17.89 per cent., woody fiber (not including the stone) 1.48 per cent., ash 1.38 per cent. (König, Nahrungsmittel, ii, 397, 1880.) In Hungary a kind of brandy (Zwetschenbranntwein), containing about 40 per cent. of alcohol, is obtained from them, which in some districts is largely consumed. Bonneberg, a German chemist, has extracted from prunes crystallizable sugar equal to that of the cane.
Prunes are laxative and nutritious, and, stewed with water, form an excellent diet in costiveness. Imparting their laxative properties to boiling water, they serve as a pleasant and useful addition to purgative decoctions. Their pulp is used in the preparation of laxative confections. Too largely taken, they are apt to occasion flatulence, griping, and indigestion. Prunes were dropped from the former U, S. Pharmacopoeia, but admitted to the National Formulary IV because confection of senna, which was the only preparation in which prunes entered, was not admitted to the U. S. P. IX, but confection of senna is now official in N. F. IV.