Prunus americana (Wild Plum)
|Also known as:||American Red Plum|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; fields, prairies, woolands, forest edges, roadsides, along shores|
|Plant height:||10 to 25 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: UPL MW: UPL NCNE: UPL|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Numerous convex to nearly globe shaped clusters from buds at the tips of branches, each cluster a 1 to 4-flowered umbel (stalks all arising from the same point) and emerging before the leaves in spring. Flowers are ¾ to 1 inch across with 5 white, round to egg-shaped petals with a single slender style and a spray of white, slender yellow-tipped stamens in the center.
The 5 sepals are green to red, about 1/3 the length of the petals, lance-oblong, rounded at the tip and spreading or reflexed downward. The edges lack glands or have just a few at the tip; the inner surface is hairy and the outer hairy or smooth. Flower stalks are slender and hairless.
Leaves and bark:
Leaves are simple and alternate, the blade elliptic to oblong-elliptic, 2 to 4 inches long and 1¼ to 1¾ inches wide, the tip abruptly tapered to a point, and rounded at the base onto a 1/3 to 2/3 inch, hairy stalk. Upper surface is dark green, hairless or becoming hairless, the lower surface is lighter and somewhat hairy. Edges are sharply toothed, often doubly, but lack any glands except for a few at the edge of the leaf blade near the stalk.
Twigs are reddish brown to gray with a flaking waxy cuticle the second year, typically smooth but occasionally persistently hairy. Branches are wide-spreading with older lateral twigs developing into stout spines up to 2½ inches long.
A shrub or small tree, Wild Plum is common throughout our prairie and central hardwoods regions. Historically fire suppressed, it has expanded its presence into open prairie and man-made forest margins and openings where it can produce large, dense thickets through its suckering root system. Similar to Canada Plum (Prunus nigra), which is primarily a forest species that has blunt teeth on leaves and glands on the upper leaf stalk, where Wild Plum has sharp teeth, and glands on the edge of the leaf blade.
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- Wild Plum
- an expanding thicket of Wild Plum in prairie habitat
- Wild Plum in a park landscape
- spiny branch
- bark forming ridges
- developing fruit
- Wild Plum sucker
- Bombus griseocollis Queen on Wild Plum
- Andrena spp. on Wild Plum
Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka, Douglas and Ramsey counties. Pollinator photos courtesy Heather Holm.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?