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

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Sunday - May 19, 2013

From: McKinney, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Problems with fruit of Mexican Plum from McKinney TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

MY Mexican plum tree (about 5 years old) has small fruit on it. Some of them are severely deformed, and look rotten almost. They are bumpy and ragged looking. Or they are pasty white,rotten and dried in appearance. This is the case for more of the fruit than not. What could it be?

ANSWER:

We are very puzzled by your description of the fruit on your Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum); according to this article on the plant from Texas A&M Aggie Horticulture it should not even have fruit on it yet:
"Fruit: The yellow-red to red-purple plums have a noticeable waxy bloom and ripen in summer to early fall; these ¾ in. to 1¼ in. long drupes have a fleshy pulp over   a hard seed; fleshy portions of the fruits are edible and are popular for use in preserves, jams, jellies; fruits are also valued as wildlife food."
Perhaps you are referring to something that occurred last Fall, but if this is last Fall's fruit still on the plant, the fruit has simply dried up and died. Since it is good wildlife food, we are surprised nothing found it and ate it.
Beyond that, about all we can tell you is that this plant is a member of the Rosaceae family, and could be susceptible to some of the same problems as garden roses. We will scratch around and see if we can find out what might be going on.
According to this USDA Plant Profile Map it does grow naturally in Collin County, so your soils should be appropriate. The only thing that we did note is that sometimes members of the Rosaceae family can be subject to Cotton Root Rot, which is a soil-borne disease. We would suggest you contact the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Office for Collin County to find out if there have been similar problems in your area.
 

From the Image Gallery


Mexican plum
Prunus mexicana

Mexican plum
Prunus mexicana

Mexican plum
Prunus mexicana

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