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Prunus nigra Aiton
Canadian plum, Canada plum, Red plum
Synonym(s): Prunus americana var. nigra
USDA Symbol: PRNI
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
Canadian plum is a small, 20-30 ft., upright-branched, narrow-headed tree. Its white flowers occur before the leaves in large clusters on long red pedicels. Fruit is yellowish-red to red. Fall foliage ranges from dark red to purple. Bark is dark and smooth.
The northernmost native plum was first recorded along the St. Lawrence River in 1535 by Jacques Cartier (1491-1557), French explorer. Earlier, Native Americans had brought him the dried fruits. The Latin species name, meaning black, refers to the dark branches. Thickets are formed from root sprouts. These plums are eaten fresh and made into preserves and jellies.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Fruit:
Red, Orange Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May
, WI Canada: MB
, ON Native Distribution:
Nf. to w. Ont. & MN,
s. to VA, KY
& IA Native Habitat:
Moist woods; thickets
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Moist, rich soils.
Conditions Comments: This plant adapts to a variety of soils, is fast-growing and short-lived.
Birds and other wildlife eat the fruit. Warning:
CAUTION: Children have died from eating too many plums without removing the stones. As with other plums, all parts of this tree,
except the skin and flesh of the fruits, 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:
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
Record Last Modified: 2012-10-20
Research By: TWC Staff