A project is underway to increase the number of iconic Dittisham (Ditsum) plums whose history dates back to the 19th century.

Their Latin name is Prunus domestica and they are grown on the banks of the River Dart not far from the ferry across to Greenway, the former summer home of Agatha Christie.

Dittisham Ploughman Plums have a rich sweet taste and the smell is said to be similar to grapes and honey.

Six new orchards are being created by the Dart Connectivity Farm Facilitation Group

Diane Lethbridge from South Devon National Landscape said:

‘‘Myself and Louise Lethbridge co co-ordinator secured a Farming in Protected Landscape grant from Defra via South Devon National Landscape, to establish more Dittisham (Ditsum) Plum orchards in the area as so many had been lost over the years. The idea was originally raised by group member Philip Bond whose family have farmed near Dittisham for generations.

A lot of trees have been lost due to development or other reasons over the years.

Group member Erica Pilkington who owns one of largest - Hound Orchard in Dittisham agreed that with the orchard expert Charles Stanliand overseeing the process she would be happy for us to pot up 30 suckers from the orchard to plant out in November at selected locations around Dittisham to establish new orchards and increase the stock of authentic Ditsum plums.’’

Diane continued: ‘‘Hound orchard is one of the last surviving Ditsum plum orchards in Dittisham, in Dittisham village there are three plum varieties the Dittisham Plowman (ploughman) (Prunus domestica) and two damsons Dittisham Black and Dittisham damson. Historically Dittisham, was full of commercial orchards selling fruit at local markets, taken to Plymouth and made in to jam in Totnes.’’

It is thought that the plum may have come from Germany originally, perhaps from a ship wrecked along the South Hams coastline.

The plum flowers in April and has a very short season lasting no more than 10 days from early to mid-August.

The Dittisham plum is far redder in colour than ordinary plums, medium to large and is oblong.

Last but not least, the plum makes excellent jam.