Wild Plum

Prunus americana
Rosaceae (roses)

A shrub propagating by root sprouts to form thickets, or a small tree with spreading, more or less hanging, branches.

Leaves alternate, simple, 2½-4 inches long, 1½-2 inches wide, broadest at or below the middle; margin sharply toothed; upper surface dark green, lower surface paler and net-veined.

Bark dark brown to reddish, breaking into thin, long, scaly plates, pores horizontal and prominent.

Twigs slender, smooth, green to orange to reddish-brown; lateral branches spurlike or sometimes thorny; pores circular, raised, minute buds smooth (without hairs).

Flowers April–May, in clusters of 2–5, stalks ¼-¾ inch long, smooth; flowers ¾-1¼ inches broad, white, fragrant; petals 5, broadest at the middle, rounded at the tip, and narrow at the base; stamens about 20.

Fruits July–September, in clusters with 1-5 fruits; fruit usually ¾-1 inch long, globe-shaped, red or sometimes yellow, conspicuously marked with pale dots; skin tough; flesh yellow and juicy, varying in flavor.

Height: to 20 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Occurs in woodlands, pastures and thickets. A fast-growing, short-lived small tree that has been planted in parks and orchards for its attractive, fragrant flowers and edible fruits. There are many horticultural forms and hybrids of this popular shrub.
Distribution in Missouri: 
There are many species of plums (genus Prunus) in Missouri, but this is one of the most common.
Human connections: 
The fruit makes excellent jellies and preserves; may be eaten raw or cooked. Rated as the best fruit plum in the Midwest and North regions. A popular landscaping shrub with showy white flowers. Many hybrids and cultivars exist.
Ecosystem connections: 
The fruit is eaten by many species of birds, including bobwhite. Deer, raccoons and squirrels relish the fruit as well. This tree is an early colonizer of old pastures and other once-disturbed landscapes that are reverting back to forest.
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