Prunus nigra Aiton
Canadian plum, Canada plum, Red plum
Rosaceae (Rose Family)
Synonym(s): Prunus americana var. nigra
USDA Symbol: prni
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.
From the Image Gallery
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May
DistributionUSA: CT , IA , IL , IN , MA , ME , MI , MN , NH , NY , OH , VT , WI
Canada: MB , NB , 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.
BenefitUse Wildlife: 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: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial Value to Native Bees
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
PropagationDescription: 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: Collect fruit 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: yes
National Wetland Indicator Status
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Prunus nigra in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Prunus nigra in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Prunus nigra
MetadataRecord Modified: 2012-10-20
Research By: TWC Staff