Old Green Gage plum tree
- Gardening skill: Experienced
- Picking season: Late
- Self-fertility: Not self-fertile
- Pollination group: 3
Old Green Gage is the definitive "gage", and often considered the best flavored of any plum variety.
It is described by Victorian fruit enthusiast Robert Hogg as "tender, melting, and very juicy, with a rich, sugary and most delicious flavor", whilst H.V. Taylor in 'The Plums of England' (1949) rates it as "For all purposes unsurpassed".
Taylor also mentions the "light and uncertain" crops which is the main horticultural difficulty with Old Green Gage, although in our experience cropping can be good once the tree is established - in any case this is a small price to pay for such excellence of flavor.
Compared to the attractive coloring of most plums, the appearance of Old Green Gage fruit is fairly plain - the plums are quite small and a dull green color, turning slightly yellow when ripe. However this is one that you grow for flavor - for eating fresh it is exceptional.
Please note we cannot delivery plum trees to California.
Old Green Gage plum trees for sale
Full-size 1-year bare-root tree
Mature height: 16ft-24ft after 10 years
How to grow
The gages are more fussy in their growing requirements than other plums and Old Greengage is no exception, but if you can provide a warm but temperate sheltered location you should be successful. Although it likes a warm sunny summer, Old Green Gage is surprisingly hardy and will tolerate cold winter weather.
Old Greengage is generally considered partially self-fertile but having another pollination partner nearby will definitely help to improve cropping. Old Greengage can be pollinated by most other plum and gage varieties.
If the tree sets a lot of fruit after a good spring, be sure to thin the fruitlets, otherwise the plums will be small and have less flavor.
Advice on fruit tree pollination.
Old Green Gage has a fascinating history. The gages are usually included within the European plum species Prunus domestica, but are nevertheless a distinct sub-group, being smaller and more spherical, and usuall green or yellow. They have been cultivated in France since the Middle Ages having been introduced from Italy. In France the many different varieties of green-skinned gages are known collectively as "Reine Claude" after Queen Claude, the wife of Francis I who ruled France from 1515 to 1547. Old Green Gage is believed to be the same variety as the French Grosse Reine Claude.
It is generally thought that Old Green Gage was introduced to the UK from France in the 18th century by Sir William Gage, who lived at Bury St. Edmunds and obtained a tree from his brother who was a priest living in Paris. As a result of his promotion of this new variety all green plums tend to be known as "Gages" in the UK. However, whilst Sir William is undoubtedly responsible for the English name, and the Old Green Gage in particular, there is some evidence that his was in fact a re-introduction of a variety already widely grown in England known as Verdoch, which may have come to England from Italy in the Middle Ages.
Green-skinned gages were subsequently introduced to the USA in the late 18th century where they are also generally known as Green Gages.
Old Green Gage characteristics
- Picking seasonLate
- UsesEating fresh
- Keeping (of fruit)1-3 days
- Flavor style (apples)Sweeter
- Fruit persistenceNormal ripening
- Gardening skillExperienced
- Self-fertilityNot self-fertile
- Pollination group3
- Pollinating othersAverage
- VigourAverage vigour
- Bearing regularityRegular
- General resistancePoor
- Cold hardiness (USDA)(4) -30F / -34C
- Summer average maximum temperaturesCool ( 20-24C / 68-75F)Warm (25-30C / 76-85F)
- Frost resistance of blossomGood resistance
- Country of originFrance
- Period of origin1550 - 1599
- Fruit colorGreen