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Prunus pumila var. besseyi (Western sandcherry)
Reveal, James L.

Prunus pumila var. besseyi

Prunus pumila L. var. besseyi (L.H. Bailey) Gleason

Western Sandcherry, Sand Cherry

Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Synonym(s): Cerasus pumila ssp. besseyi, Prunus besseyi, Prunus pumila ssp. besseyi

USDA Symbol: prpub

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Sand cherry is a suckering, spreading, deciduous shrub, 4-6 ft. high and wide. Its gray-green leaves provide a different foliage color than most Prunus species. White, 1/2 in. diameter flowers give way to sweet, purplish-black fruits in July and Aug.


From the Image Gallery

14 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 6 feet tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: AR , CO , IA , KS , MI , MN , MT , ND , NE , OR , SD , UT , WY
Canada: ON , SK
Native Distribution: W. MN to MT, s. to IA, n.c. KS & n.e. CO
Native Habitat: Sandy prairies; woodland edges; stream valleys; roadsides

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Sandy soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay
Conditions Comments: Tolerates inhospitable, hot and dry conditions.


Use Wildlife: Birds and other wildlife eat the fruit.
Warning: The seeds of all Prunus species, found inside the fruits, contain poisonous substances and should never be eaten. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: 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

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Prunus pumila var. besseyi in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Prunus pumila var. besseyi in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Prunus pumila var. besseyi


Record Modified: 2022-10-20
Research By: TWC Staff

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