Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Purple Leaf Plum, Purple Cherry Plum
Prunus cerasifera

Family: Rosaceae (ro-ZAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Prunus (PROO-nus) (Info)
Species: cerasifera (ke-ra-SEE-fer-uh) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

9 members have or want this plant for trade.


30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From hardwood cuttings
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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Thumbnail #1 of Prunus cerasifera by KK_MEM

Thumbnail #2 of Prunus cerasifera by KK_MEM

By langbr
Thumbnail #3 of Prunus cerasifera by langbr

By langbr
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By langbr
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By kennedyh
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By kennedyh
Thumbnail #7 of Prunus cerasifera by kennedyh

There are a total of 16 photos.
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7 positives
5 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive cinemike On Oct 6, 2011, cinemike from CREZIERES
France (Zone 8a) wrote:

I have a mature plurple-leaved (? atropurpurea) specimen of this tree in my garden here in France. The flowers and leaves are very ornamental and reliable. Some years the fruits are not well set bu5 for three of the last four years it has borne wonderful crops of fruit which are, as has been already said, great for jam, but, even better is to preserve the fruit in syrup in bottles. Then it makes a wonderful filling for crumbles and pies - especially with apples - the sourness of the fruit contrasting perfectly withthe syrup. I am particularly pleased that it is easy to remove the stones in the fruit with an olive pitter... One of the deciduous trees that if of interest for most of the year.

Positive pajaritomt On Oct 23, 2007, pajaritomt from Los Alamos, NM (Zone 5a) wrote:

I have two of purple leaf plums, one in the front yard and one on the side. They grow nicely in terrible soil with little or no care. They produce a small crop of tasty purple fruits each year. I eat a few and let the birds have the rest.
The purple leaves make a nice contrast with green plants and the pink flowers in the spring are the first tree to flower -- They are always more than welcome.

Positive angelam On Aug 30, 2006, angelam from melbourne
Australia wrote:

The suburb I live in was all orchards 100 years ago, and this plum is in many gardens and on many spare bits of land such as railway embankments. It self seeds freely. I have 2, one ancient, rotten to the core and a mass of blossom at the moment and a young one I put in for when I finally have to remove the first one.
Here, at least, they do not like any more than tip pruning as the wounds never heal over, leaving a weak point for borer and disease to get in. However the expert who checked the tree out for me told me they can live for many years hollowed out and that it doesn't seriously weaken them as the outer tissue strengthens when this occurs. They are beautiful in blossom, and new leaf, the red fruit is gorgeous against the purple leaves in Summer and it does make great jam. I have to compete for the fruit against possums, fruitbats and parrots, so its good for watching wildlife too, I can see some of the tiny native bees busy among the flowers as I type.

Positive kennedyh On Aug 27, 2006, kennedyh from Churchill, Victoria
Australia (Zone 10a) wrote:

Cherry Plums have become naturalised here in Victoria, Australia, and are a very common sight by the roadside, the seeds being spread by birds. Several varieties occur, the commonest being green leaved with white flowers and the fruit ripening to yellow with a touch of red. A purple-leaved variety with pink blossom is also quite common and has deep red to purple fruit. The fruit is usually plentiful and is quite pleasant to eat when fully ripe. It also makes excellent jam and we often pick a bucketful somewhere by the roadside in the summer, which makes several jars of jam.
The birds have seeded a couple along the back edge of our garden and they are almost big enough to provide a useful amount of fruit this year.

Neutral escambiaguy On Jan 25, 2005, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I can remember when I was a kid my grandparents used to have one of these trees.Although they are supposed to be fruitless,this one did bear small plums.Maybe it's because there were some wild plums growing nearby.I also remember something growing on the branches of it that looked like burnt marshmellows.It slowly killed the tree.I now know that this was called Black Knot disease.It's a very big problem on all plum species.It can be prevented by annual spraying.

Neutral vkatzman On Jul 31, 2004, vkatzman from Meridian, ID (Zone 5a) wrote:

I have a Purple Leaf Plum in my front yard, which I love for the flowers and leaf color. I had some small, red fruit this year and the birds ate most of them, so there wasn't a mess on the yard. However, my mother, who lives in Southern Idaho (83328 zip) has the Mt. St. Helens variety. When she purchased and planted two trees about 10 years ago, she was told that they flower but do not produce fruit. Well, this year has been a bountiful year for small purple plums littering the grass and driveway! We picked up about 100 lbs of fruit last weekend and she had previously raked up about 40 lbs of fruit. Is there any type of spray that could be applied at flowering that would prevent fruiting?

Neutral tepr6 On Jul 3, 2004, tepr6 from Fairfield, CT wrote:

I have a purple leaf plum. It is the Mount St. Helens variety, but the leaves are much more green than other plum trees in the area. It gets about five hours of sunlight a day. Does anybody know what causes such a green leaf color (soil, variety, or only the amount of sunlight)?

Positive dandelioness77 On Jun 7, 2004, dandelioness77 from Tacoma, WA wrote:

I don't have any in my own garden, but they line the streets here in Tacoma, there are many in the gardens where I work in Fife, and seem to do very well in this area. Our soil is generally rocky. We have wet winters and springs and droughts from mid July into late September. I would like to have one in my own yard, but am concerned about it's proclaimed short life. Any further information on lifespan and signs of a doomed tree would be greatly apreciated.

Positive langbr On Apr 15, 2004, langbr from Olathe, KS (Zone 6a) wrote:

This tree was here when we moved in and we've been here 5 years this month. I would estimate that it was 3 years old when we arrived so it is roughly 8 now. Never a problem, I've let it do it's own thing until last year and I pruned it back from the windows of our home. I love it. Provides great foliage during Spring - Fall and gorgeous flowers in the Spring. I haven't fertilized it or given it any special care.

Negative ZZ_Blonde On Sep 15, 2003, ZZ_Blonde from Bossier City, LA wrote:

I had two purple leaf plums in my yard. They were pruned, watered, and fertilized regularly. They grew very fast and looked great first two years. Then some type of bores got into them. I was not able to get rid of them and after about two years the trees were in serious trouble. I recently had to remove both of them and try something else in those two spots. I have not been able to find much information at all re: what bores get in purple leaf plum trees. Have been gardening for over 20 years and this was my first experience with bores like this and I lost the battle.

Neutral hollyberries On Jul 24, 2003, hollyberries from Dickson, TN wrote:

My plum trees are beautiful when they bloom in the spring, but I have a horrible problem with Japanese beetles. They are attracted to the trees. We have done everything to try and gt rid of the Japanese beetles, but nothing works for long. The beetles have almost destroyed all the leaves on the tree. They are a horrible menace.

Neutral tecolote_gal On Jun 2, 2003, tecolote_gal wrote:

Beautiful tree. Easy to shape. Wonderful Color. But, I had to remove it, as it continually sent up sucker trees from the roots. This may be a lawn problem. Most suckers came up in the area where the lawn was well watered. Any root damage also cause suckers to sprout.

Positive Terry On Aug 31, 2002, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Nice form, good shade tree, interesting bark color and nice flowers in the spring. The only downside is it is a relatively short-lived tree, and those we've grown have suffered from some unnamed maladies that cause limb dieback.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Atmore, Alabama
Phoenix, Arizona
Castro Valley, California
East Shore, California
Los Angeles, California
Oak View, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Litchfield, Connecticut
Niles, Illinois
Olathe, Kansas
Folsom, Louisiana
Riverdale, Maryland
Winnemucca, Nevada
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Oxford, North Carolina
Hilliard, Ohio
Lancaster, Ohio
Salem, Ohio
Streetsboro, Ohio
Bensalem, Pennsylvania
Collierville, Tennessee
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Conroe, Texas
Leesburg, Virginia
Tacoma, Washington
Dubois, Wyoming

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