Wild Plum

Wild Plum Prunus AmericanaWhen grown in the open, the common wild plum, (Prunus americana) is a low-branched, rounded tree, but becomes shrubby when grown in thickets or in crowded  conditions.  It is found throughout the state along fence rows, borders of woods and waste places. It is a valuable wildlife tree.

wild plum leaves
Wild Plum Leaves - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

Habitat: Grows in open woods, woodland edges, fence rows and along railroad right of ways.

Hardiness: Zones 3 through 10

Growth Rate: Moderate to Fast

Mature Shape: Varies by species

Height: 20-30 feet

Width: 15-25 feet

Site Requirements: Adaptable but prefers moist, well-drained soils.  In the right conditions, it will grow like a weed.  Withstands heavy pruning and prefers full sun to partial shade.

Leaves: Alternate, simple, single toothed, and oval or oblong shaped.

wild plum fruit
Wild Plum Fruit - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

Flowering Dates: March - May

Seed Dispersal Dates: June - October

Seed Bearing Age: 4 years

Seed Bearing Frequency: Every 1 to 2 years

Seed Stratification: Prechill for 3 to 5 months at 34°F to 40°F

The leaves are similar to cherry leaves in shape, but are thinner, less firm, lighter green and less shiny above; light green beneath and with a wrinkled appearance.  The leaves are 3 to 4 inches long with long  pointed tips.

The twigs are slender, orange-brown, turning dark reddish brown  and marked with tiny raised light dots.  The short side twigs are often  spiny.  The fleshy fruit is sweet, round to oval, about 1 inch in diameter with a rounded seed.  It is red to yellowish red when mature in late August.  It is used for jams and jellies.

On young stems the bark is orange-brown to dark red-brown and is smooth and shiny. On older stems it is darker colored and breaks into large, thin scales or plates.

Diseases that Can Affect Wild Plum

Insects that Can Affect Wild Plum