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Wednesday - August 13, 2014

From: Abington, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: General Botany, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Are Chickasaw plums evergreen?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Are Chickasaw Plums evergreens? I've been very interested in planting a few but some websites say they are evergreens while others say the opposite. Furthermore, would I have to plant a male and female to get fruit?

ANSWER:

On our Native Plant Database the Leaf Retention for Prunus angustifolia (Chickasaw plum) has been corrected from "evergreen" to "deciduous".  Thank you for pointing out the error to us.  Indeed, Chickasaw plums are deciduous according to the following experts:

Also, University of Florida IFAS Extension and North Carolina State University Extension say that it is deciduous.

Chickasaw plums have perfect flowers (i.e., with both male and female reproductive structures); but it is possible that they are not completely self-fertile.   You can read an interesting article about pollination, pollinators and pollinziers, Plums on the Prairies by Rick Sawatzky.  Many of the commercial plum trees and home garden plum trees are hybrids of Japanese plums and Prunus americana (American plum).  Recently, breeders in the South have been using Prunus angustifolia to make the hybrids more adaptable.  Sawatzky's article indicates that the hybrid cultivars are most fruitful when the pollinizer tree is a wild plum. I couldn't find any indication, however, in that article about whether the wild trees such as P. angustifolia are self-fertile.  In the article Testing and Evaluation of Plum and Plum Hybrid Cultivars,  Jerome L. Frecon and Daniel L. Ward from Rutgers University in New Jersey name some hybrids that are self-fertile and some that are not.   Although Apalachee Hills Landscape says that the cultivar, Prunus andgustifolia 'Guthrie' is self-pollinating, there are conflicting opinions in the Eat the Weeds website's Chickasaw Plum: Yum article by Green Deane.  Deane says they are self-fertilizing; but a commenter says that not until she got a second tree did her Chickasaw plum produce fruit.  So, without a definitive answer about the self-fertilization of Chickasaw plums, I guess you have two choices:

  1. Buy one tree and hope that it really is self-fertile and produces lots of plums; or
  2. Buy two and be absolutely sure that your trees will produce fruit.
 

From the Image Gallery


Chickasaw plum
Prunus angustifolia

Chickasaw plum
Prunus angustifolia

Chickasaw plum
Prunus angustifolia

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