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Wasowski, Sally and Andy
Prunus americana Marsh.
American plum, Wild plum
USDA Symbol: PRAM
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
A thicket-forming shrub or small tree with short trunk, many spreading branches, broad crown, showy large white flowers, and red plums. American plum is a small, understory tree to 35 ft. with fragrant, white flowers in showy, flat-topped clusters occuring before the leaves in spring. The fruit that follows ripens to a shiny, bright red in August or September. The short, crooked trunk – with scaly, black bark – supports a graceful, open crown. Fall foliage ranges from electric red to pale yellow.
The plums are eaten fresh and used in jellies and preserves, and are also consumed by many kinds of birds. Numerous cultivated varieties with improved fruit have been developed. A handsome ornamental with large flowers and relatively big fruit, American Plum is also grown for erosion control, spreading by root sprouts.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf:
Green Autumn Foliage:
Red Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May
AL , AR , AZ , CO , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , UT , VA , VT , WI , WV , WY Canada: MB
, SK Native Distribution:
S. NH to Man. & MT, s. to FL Panhandle, AR, KS & NM Native Habitat:
Woodland edges; stream banks; upland pastures USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Moist, rich, well-drained loams.
Plums are not a choice food for wildlife, but the plants provide valuable nesting cover and are a host to many butterflies. Use Food:
The fruits have tough, sour outer skins, but their sweet, juicy flesh is delicious, making excellent jams, jellies, preserves and pies. The plums can also be halved, then pitted and dried like prunes, spread in a thin sheet and dried as fruit
leather. (Kershaw) Warning:
Plant has thorns or prickles. CAUTION: All parts of this tree,
except the flesh and skin of the plums, contain the toxin hydrocyanic acid. (Kershaw) Conspicuous Flowers:
Prunus species may be rooted from dormant hardwood, softwood, semi-hardwood, or root cuttings. Semi-hardwood and softwood cuttings taken in summer root easiest. Germination of most seeds requires cold stratification. Some species need a period of after Seed Collection:
when it is filled out, firm, and its ripe color. Clean seeds from pulp and briefly air dry. (Seeds to be sown immediately in fall do not need drying.) Storage viability is maintained at 31-41 degrees. Seed Treatment:
For spring sowing, stratify seeds in moist sand for 30-60 days in a greenhouse, then cold stratify (36-41 degrees) for 60-90 days. Plant well before high temperatures. Commercially Avail:
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From the National Suppliers Directory
According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
American Native Nursery
- Quakertown, PA
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Delaware Nature Society
- Hockessin, DENative Seed Network
- Corvallis, OR
Recommended Species Lists
Find native plant species by state. Each list contains commercially available species suitable for gardens and planned landscapes. Once you have selected a collection, you can browse the collection or search within it using the combination search.
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Record Modified: 2009-02-18
Research By: TWC Staff