Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Friday - July 23, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Eating green wild plums
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

As a child in south Austin I always relished eating green plums beginning in mid-May. My aunt had wild plum trees - more like bushes really - that fruited starting in late April. (Sadly, they died when I was in college.) We would eat the plum unripened - the skin smooth, green and crisp, the fruit just starting to turn yellow and juicy, the whole thing mouth puckeringly sour and acidic! By the 2nd week in June the plums were ripe, moderately sweet, with reddish skin and mushy flesh. I didn't like them so much then! Until 2 years ago I was able to buy these same plums by the bushel from the farmer's market on N. Lamar, but sadly the farmers no longer go there. That makes TWO years I've gone without my summer treat. I've asked my aunt what kind of plums they were, and she doesn't know. It was just a wild tree growing through her fence when she moved into the house 40 off years ago. My question is, what kind of plum tree was this? Is this something that's readily available at local nurseries? Would it grow in my yard (southwest Austin, Oak Hill area), and is it something that require cross pollination? Basically - can I grow my own sour plums since I can't find them anymore? Thank you so much for your help!

ANSWER:

It makes my mouth pucker just to think of eating green wild plums!  

Judging by your description of their being bushes rather than trees, we think the plums that grew in your aunt's yard were probably Prunus rivularis (creek plum).  They could also have been Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum), the other common wild plum that grows in the Austin area. Both plums have perfect flowers (with both stamens, the male component, and pistils, the female part) and are pollinated by bees and other insects and should grow just fine in your yard in Oak Hill. You can search our National Suppliers Directory for local nurseries that carry the trees.  Nurseries around town commonly carry the Mexican plum, but the creek plum may be a little harder to find.


Prunus rivularis

Prunus rivularis

Prunus mexicana

Prunus mexicana

 

 

More Seed and Plant Sources Questions

Planting red Columbine and Cedar sage from seed in Canyon Lake, Tx.
July 06, 2010 - I live near Canyon Lake, Texas in the Hill Country. I would like to plant red columbine and cedar sage in the shady areas beneath live oaks and ashe junipers within the limestone soil that is there n...
view the full question and answer

Finding Viguiera dentata seeds or plants.
November 09, 2009 - I'm trying to locate seeds or plants of Viguiera Dentata, but have been unsuccessful. With the poliferation of these beautiful flowers this fall, I don't understand why I can't locate them. Do you ...
view the full question and answer

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower seed mix
August 06, 2007 - Where can I buy "Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower seed mix? Does such a thing exist? It seems like years ago my neighbor had some packets that she planted in her front yard, they were gorgeous! I woul...
view the full question and answer

Need a source of sulfuric acid for scarifying bluebonnet seeds in Austin, TX.
May 06, 2009 - I see that you recommend soaking blue bonnet seeds in concentrated h2so4 to facilitate germination. Where do you suggest I buy the sulfuric acid? I live here in Austin. Thank you,
view the full question and answer

Sources for native plants astragalus and acerola
May 12, 2005 - Where can I get a plant of astragalus as well as acerola?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.