American plum

(Prunus americana)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

American plum

NatureServe

N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

UPL - Obligate upland

Midwest

UPL - Obligate upland

Northcentral & Northeast

UPL - Obligate upland

Nativity

Native

 
Occurrence

Common

 
Habitat

Dry to moist. Coulees, ravines, roadsides, utility rights-of-way, forest openings, floodplains, prairies where natural fires are suppressed. Full sun to part shade.

 
Flowering

April to early June

     
Flower Color

White

     
Height

10 to 15

     

Identification

This is an erect, fast-growing, perennial shrub or small tree rising on a single or multiple stems from a woody root. It is relatively long-lived, sometimes reaching 50 or 60 years of age.

When in the form of a tree it is 15 to 25 tall and 4 to 10 in diameter at breast height. It has a single short trunk and a broad, open, spreading crown. In prairies and other open areas it is rarely in the form of a tree.

When in the form of a shrub it can be 3 to 26 tall, but is usually 10 to 15 tall. It rises on a single or multiple stems that branch near the ground. It can form large, dense, impenetrable thickets from root suckers.

The branches are slender. The stems and branches usually have thorns. The thorns are stout; up to 2 long; have a dull surface; and have buds or leaves attached, or leaf scars where leaves have fallen off.

The bark on young stems is dark gray or gray-brown, tinged with red, and more or less smooth, with numerous horizontal slits (lenticels). When it ages it becomes rough and curls or peels off in thick strips.

Young twigs are thin and have minute lenticels. They are green at first, later becoming grayish-brown to reddish-brown. The may be hairless but are often hairy or densely hairy.

Buds are reddish-gray, to 5 16 long, and sharply pointed. Leaf scars are raised and have 3 bundle scars.

The leaves are alternate, deciduous, elliptical to egg-shaped, unlobed, 2 to 2½ times as long as wide, 2¼ to 4 long, and 1¼ to 1¾ wide. They are attached to the twig on 5 16 to long leaf stalks. The leaf stalks are hairy, sometimes densely hairy, and usually do not have glands near the point where the blade attaches to the stalk. The blades are tapered or rounded at the base and taper to a point at the tip with concave sides along the tip. The upper surface is dark green and hairless. The lower surface is paler green sparsely to moderately hairy along the veins. The margins are singly or doubly toothed with short, sharp, forward-pointing teeth. The teeth do not have glands but tend to have a callous point at the tip. The leaves turn golden yellow in autumn.

The inflorescence is 2 to 4 flowers in a stalkless umbrella-shaped cluster (umbel). The umbels appear at the ends of current year twigs and at the axils of previous year branchlets.

The flowers are ¾ to 1 across. There are 5 green, 1 16 to long sepals, 5 white, ¼ to 7 16 long petals, and 20 to 30 stamens. The sepals are often hairy on the upper side. Many flowers do not produce fruit. The flowers have an unpleasant aroma. They appear before the leaves from April to early June.

The fruits are fleshy, one-seeded, roughly spherical, ¾ to 1¼ in diameter drupes. They are covered with a whitish, waxy coating (glaucous). Drupes are yellow when immature, red to yellow, usually orange-red, when mature. They have a thick skin and yellow flesh. They mature early mid-August to mid-September.

 
Similar
Species

Canada plum (Prunus nigra) is less common and less widespread. The leaves are proportionately wider, 1.3 to 2 times as long as wide. There are two small red gland dots near the tip of each leaf petiole. American plum lacks these glands.

Hawthorns (Cretaegus spp.) thorns have a shiny surface.


Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 28.

Comments

 


Taxonomy

Family:

Rosaceae (rose)

 

Subfamily:

Maloideae (=Spiraeoideae)

 

No Rank:

Amygdaleae

 

Genus:

Prunus

 

Subgenus:

Prunus (plums and apricots)

 

Section:

Prunocerasus

 
Synonyms

Prunus americana var. floridana

Prunus domestica var. americana

 
Common
Names

American plum

American wild plum

American red plum

August plum

goose plum

hog plum

Osage plum

Pottawattami plum

red plum

 

river plum

sand cherry

sandhill plum

sloe

thorn plum

wild plum

wild yellow plum

yellow plum


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

coulee

A deep, steep-sided gulch or ravine, sometimes with a stream at the bottom but usually dry in the summer.

 

drupe

A fleshy fruit with a single hard, stone-like core, like a cherry or peach.

 

glaucous

Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.

 

lenticel

A corky, round or stripe-like, usually raised, pore-like opening in bark that allows for gas exchange.

 

umbel

A flat-topped or convex, umbrella-shaped cluster of flowers or buds arising from more or less a single point.

       

Visitor Photos

   
Share your photo of this plant.

       
       
       
       

MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos

   

Plant

  American plum   American plum
       
  American plum   American plum
       

Inflorescence

  American plum   American plum
       
  American plum    
       

Flower

  American plum    
       

Leaves

  American plum   American plum
       

Leaf Blade

  American plum   American plum
       

Bark

  American plum   American plum
       

Stem

  American plum   American plum
       

Thorns

  American plum    
       

Unripe Fruit

  American plum   American plum
       
  American plum    
       

Ripe Fruit

  American plum   American plum
       
       

 

Camera

     

Slideshows

   
  American Plum (Prunus americana)
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  American Plum (Prunus americana)  

 

slideshow

     

Visitor Videos

   
Share your video of this plant.

     
     

Other Videos

 
  How To Identify Wild Plums Prunus americana Identification
MiWilderness
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 24, 2013

How to identify wild plums. Prunus americana identification. Wild plums, or american plums, are a tasty wild edible plant. Wild plums are easy to identify, abundant, widespread, and the tree or shrub provides both medicine and serves utility purposes.

This video explains the physical characteristics of wild plums, range, distribution and habitat, and some medicinal and utility uses of wild plum.

Wild plum roots were used by native Americans to make a red dye. Wild plum twigs and inner bark were used to treat mouth sores and sore throat. Wild plum rootstocks are used for cultivated plums and the plants prevent soil erosion.

Wild plum prefers moist ares near water that get a good amount of sunlight and can be found throughout north America.

There are two other species of wild plum, beach plum and Canada plum with similar characteristics, all are considered wild edibles and can be distinguished from one another by the features shown in this video.

More useful trees and shrubs http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL69BBBB171107F34B

To see mushroom, plant, garden and outdoor photos, field guides I use, identification books, and other interesting stuff visit me on Facebook www.facebook.com/michigan.wilderness

Thanks for watching, commenting, subscribing to, and supporting this channel. If you like this video please give a thumbs up and share it with others. If you have any questions or tips please leave a comment.

 
     

 

Camcorder

         

Visitor Sightings

   
Share your sighting of this plant.

William Lasseter
8/16/2017

Location: Zachary Lane near Bass Lake, Plymouth, MN

A small tree just off the path where the boardwalk veers off toward Timber Shores Park.


     
     
 

MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings

   

Antelope Valley SNA

Baker Park Reserve

Blue Mounds State Park

Buffalo River State Park

Bunker Hills Regional Park

Butternut Valley Prairie SNA

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Cedar Mountain SNA

Cedar Rock SNA

Cleary Lake Regional Park

Compass Prairie SNA

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Des Moines River SNA

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Falls Creek SNA

Felton Prairie SNA
Bicentennial Unit

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

Fort Ridgely State Park

Frontenac State Park

Glacial Lakes State Park

Glendalough State Park

Glynn Prairie SNA

Great River Bluffs State Park

Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Hastings Sand Coulee SNA

Holthe Prairie SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

John A. Latsch State Park

Kellogg-Weaver Dunes SNA
Kellogg-Weaver Unit

Lake Carlos State Park

Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Lake Maria State Park

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Leif Mountain

Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Margherita Preserve-Audubon Prairie

Miller Prairie
West Unit

Minneopa State Park

Minnesota Valley NWR
Black Dog Preserve Unit

Moose Lake State Park

Morton Outcrops SNA

Mound Prairie SNA

Mound Spring Prairie SNA, North Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR
Touch the Sky Prairie Unit

Ordway Prairie

Osmundson Prairie SNA

Pilot Knob

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

Prairie Coteau SNA

Red Rock Prairie

Regal Meadow

Richard M. & Mathilde Rice Elliott SNA

Savage Fen SNA

Sedan Brook SNA

Sheepberry Fen

Staffanson Prairie

Swedes Forest SNA

Townsend Woods SNA

Tympanuchus Prairie

Verlyn Marth Memorial Prairie SNA

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Wild Indigo Prairie SNA

Wild River State Park

William O’Brien State Park

Woodland Trails Park

Zimmerman Prairie

Zumbro Falls Woods SNA


 

 

Binoculars

Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © 2017 MinnesotaSeasons.com. All rights reserved.