Plums are a diverse group of species. The commercially important plum trees are medium-sized, usually pruned to 5-6 metres height. The tree is of medium hardiness. Without pruning, the trees can reach 12 metres in height and spread across 10 metres. They blossom in different months in different parts of the world; for example, in about January in Taiwan and early April in the United Kingdom.
Fruits are usually of medium size, between 2 and 7 centimetres in diameter, globose to oval. The flesh is firm and juicy. The fruit's peel is smooth, with a natural waxy surface that adheres to the
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The Tropoja black plums are a variety of plum (Prunus domestica) cultivated in the northeastern Albanian municipality of Tropoja since the beginning of the 16th century. There is a strong connection between the plums and the livelihoods of the local people, and still today the fruit are processed into jam, hoshaf, compote and raki (brandy).
Tropoja black plums are also traditionally sold after being dried in the sun or the oven. The plums are baked in traditional ovens, made of two connected rooms, with a fire on one side and the plums on the other. This technique is locally considered a true art and a specific feature of the Tropoja area, although only a handful of people still process plums this way. These days the technique is at risk of dying out.
Compared with other cultivars, Tropoja black plums have a 20% higher sugar content, stronger consistency of the crumb and better resistance to disease and pests. This variety possesses remarkable curative properties and its compote is traditionally believed to be an excellent treatment for respiratory diseases.
Currently around 140 small- to medium-scale producers have this plum as their primary source of income, and around 600 to 800 seasonal workers are employed during the harvesting season, when the plums are picked by hand. The product is highly valued on the market, and the sales volume has significantly increased over recent years, from 431 to 1,600 tons. However, this geographical indication is threatened by genericization: Further away from the area of origin, consumers are often misled by similar products, labeled under the Tropoje black plum name, which in fact are other varieties cultivated in different regions.