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WILD PLUM - Prunus americana

Copyright:Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

Common Name: WILD PLUM
Other Common Names: american plum
Scientific Name: Prunus americana
Derivation: americana - American.
Family: Rose - Rosaceae
Species Characteristics: twigs terminate in coarse thorns; flowers in clusters on short stems; leaves and twigs glabrous (smooth).
Mature Height: to 8 feet.
Flower Color: white
Flower Symmetry: radial
Fruit Color: yellow, red or purple.
Fruit Type: drupe (indehiscent - does not open upon maturity - fleshy fruit in which the outer part is soft and inner part contains hard pit enclosing the seed).
Leaf Type: simple (not divided into similar parts).
Leaf/Leaflet Shape: serrate (toothed like a saw, with teeth directed forward to the end of the leaf) or doubly serrate (with larger teeth bearing serrations).
Origin: native
Frequency: common
Growth Form: shrub
Life Cycle: perennial
Class: angiosperm (plant with covered seed).
SubClass: dicot (plants with two seed leaves and netted leaf veins).
Season of Bloom: spring (Mar. - May).
Life Zone: foothills
Habitat: forms dense thickets on sides of gulches in foothills.
Eco. Relationships: commonly infected by Black Knot fungus which produces thick, blackened swellings on branches; fruits consumed by many kinds of birds; plants provide valuable nesting cover and are a host to many butterflies.

Origin: native

Landscaping Use: ornamental, yellow to red fall color.
Moisture Requirement: low to moderate.
Light Requirement: sun to shade.
Soil Requirement: moist rich well-drained loams; high calcium carbonate tolerance, neutral pH.

Human Toxicity: seeds, leaves and twigs of many species in this genus contain amygdalin, a cyanogenic glycoside (sugar compound) which causes cyanide poisoning if eaten, resulting in cellular suffocation.
Edibility: fruits are edible and make a delicious jam or jelly; collected extensively by Native Americans to be dried for winter use.

Version: 3.0.0      Release Date: August 2015       ©2015 Jefferson County ITS

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