60224Unlike all the fancy and popular Japanese plums and European prunes, wild plum, Prunus americana, is almost never planted intentionally. It is a common understock for the more desirable types, and usually grows as suckers from below graft unions. In fact, it often grows from the roots of plum or prune trees that died or were cut down earlier. They can eventually form thickets.

Well groomed trees can get more than fifteen feet tall and broad. Even diligent pruning can not remove all of the sharp short twigs that make the stems seem thorny. Collectively, the simple and small white flowers bloom very profusely. The thin leaves that emerge after bloom are about two or three inches long. The small and soft red plums are only about an inch wide, with big pits.

Wild plum trees are very resilient, and can can survive in abandoned gardens, but really prefers occasional watering. They will lean away from the shade of larger trees. New trees do not often grow from seed, but if they do, they might be distinctly different from the trees that produced the seed. Some might be hybrids with other plums. Some might produce amber yellow plums.

The fruit may not be as fat and sweet as popular garden varieties of plum, but happens to be excellent for traditional plum jelly, either red or amber.

8 thoughts on “Wild Plum

  1. I do not know the species of wild plum that grow here in SW Oklahoma but they’re found everywhere! My niece was just saying she should probably prune hers a bit so that she could walk through the thickets of them allowing her to get to all of the fruits when they ripen. I’m not that ambitious to pick the tiny fruits, and I’m not a jelly or jam maker since we eat healthy (no sugar). They’re quite sour to eat off the shrub.

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    1. Many of the specie of Prunus that are native to North American are not easy to distinguish from each other, although some of our California natives are rather distinctive. I got a sand cherry from Long Island in New York, but am now hesitant to try others that might naturalize from my garden. I really do not think I need any more variety than I now have.

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