En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Friday - July 23, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Eating green wild plums
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

As a child in south Austin I always relished eating green plums beginning in mid-May. My aunt had wild plum trees - more like bushes really - that fruited starting in late April. (Sadly, they died when I was in college.) We would eat the plum unripened - the skin smooth, green and crisp, the fruit just starting to turn yellow and juicy, the whole thing mouth puckeringly sour and acidic! By the 2nd week in June the plums were ripe, moderately sweet, with reddish skin and mushy flesh. I didn't like them so much then! Until 2 years ago I was able to buy these same plums by the bushel from the farmer's market on N. Lamar, but sadly the farmers no longer go there. That makes TWO years I've gone without my summer treat. I've asked my aunt what kind of plums they were, and she doesn't know. It was just a wild tree growing through her fence when she moved into the house 40 off years ago. My question is, what kind of plum tree was this? Is this something that's readily available at local nurseries? Would it grow in my yard (southwest Austin, Oak Hill area), and is it something that require cross pollination? Basically - can I grow my own sour plums since I can't find them anymore? Thank you so much for your help!

ANSWER:

It makes my mouth pucker just to think of eating green wild plums!  

Judging by your description of their being bushes rather than trees, we think the plums that grew in your aunt's yard were probably Prunus rivularis (creek plum).  They could also have been Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum), the other common wild plum that grows in the Austin area. Both plums have perfect flowers (with both stamens, the male component, and pistils, the female part) and are pollinated by bees and other insects and should grow just fine in your yard in Oak Hill. You can search our National Suppliers Directory for local nurseries that carry the trees.  Nurseries around town commonly carry the Mexican plum, but the creek plum may be a little harder to find.


Prunus rivularis

Prunus rivularis

Prunus mexicana

Prunus mexicana

 

 

More Seed and Plant Sources Questions

Source for seeds of any species in the genus Choisya
May 20, 2009 - Please let me know of any commercial or other sources for seed of any species in the genus Choisya. Only a small quantity would be needed. This seed is for research purposes and is urgently needed. ...
view the full question and answer

Want to purchase mustang grape (Vitis mustangensis)
September 21, 2010 - Do you know of a nursery where I can purchase mustang grapes? I have searched the web to no avail.
view the full question and answer

Source for Brazoria Hawthorne
September 01, 2008 - I want to buy several Brazoria Hawthorn to plant in my yard and need a source, can you help?
view the full question and answer

Source for lady lupine in Rosemary Beach, FL
April 21, 2009 - Where can I buy the lady lupine? I live in Rosemary Beach, Fl.
view the full question and answer

Resource for identifying winter rosettes or seedlings
January 18, 2010 - Do you know of a good resource for identifying winter rosettes before bloom? I am interested primarily in hill country and blackland prairie.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center