Contact Us Host an Event 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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - June 20, 2013

From: Seymour, IA
Region: Midwest
Topic: Seeds and Seeding, Edible Plants, Poisonous Plants, Trees
Title: Can poisonous seed of wild plum be safely removed after steaming from Seymour IA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I read on a related questions that you said the pit/seeds of all wild plums are poisonous. My question is this, can I juice the entire fruit for making jelly without removing the pit first? I have a steam juicer and would like to put the entire cleaned fruit into it to process rather than pitting them first. Thank you.

ANSWER:

There are 35 members of the Prunus (plum) genus native to North America, 11 of which are native to Iowa. Of those, the one that grows closest to Wayne County is Prunus americana (American plum) which the USDA shows as growing in Clarke County, next  door from you on the southern border of Iowa. We always check for this sort of information to be sure the climate, rainfall and soils are right in the area in which the plant in question is being grown.

While nearly everything we read in our research mentioned the fact that everything on the Prunus plant, twigs, leaves, seeds, was poisonous except the fruit, no mention was made of removal of the seed before cooking. We found numerous recipes for wild plum jelly, including this one from GardenGuides.com How to Make Wild Plum Jelly. None of the recipes mentioned removing the seed first, but all specified draining the "mush" after cooking through several layers of cheesecloth, and discarding what was left in the cheesecloth mesh. That would certainly be a step not to be missed, because the fruit itself is small and the seeds smaller, so you need to be sure they are gone. We read several recipes from reputable sources and no mention of poisoning was made, so we think you are safe. The third picture from our Image Gallery, below, is the seed of the fruit with attached pulp.

 

From the Image Gallery


American plum
Prunus americana

American plum
Prunus americana

American plum
Prunus americana

More Seeds and Seeding Questions

Research on Atriplex confertifolia in Austin
January 21, 2010 - I have heard a lot about Atriplex confertifolia (Shadscale). Has the Center done any research/trial growing of this plant for possible adaptability to Hill Country (west Austin) area? If this is a ca...
view the full question and answer

Storing Rudbeckia Hirta Seed
October 10, 2014 - I just bought and planted your Rudbeckia hirta seed. I have a lot leftover. Can I store it until spring or better yet, next fall? If so, how?
view the full question and answer

Getting milkweed seeds into seed mixes from Milwaukee WI
February 07, 2014 - My husband and I are concerned about the Monarch butterfly migration and have started an effort to get milkweed planted along some bike trails here in Wisconsin. This made me think of Ladybird Johnso...
view the full question and answer

How does Asclepias asperula (antelope horns) respond to fire
December 18, 2010 - From your experience with prairie burns, how does Asclepias asperula (antelope horns) respond to fire? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Flowers for days on end in California
March 30, 2012 - What are some plants or flowers that I can grow "all-year" in California?
view the full question and answer

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