Wild Plum, American Plum, Goose Plum
Prunus americana

Family: Rosaceae (ro-ZAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Prunus (PROO-nus) (Info)
Species: americana (a-mer-ih-KAY-na) (Info)

Category:

Shrubs

Trees

Height:

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

Spacing:

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

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)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Danger:

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Foliage:

Deciduous

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds

Regional

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

Atmore, Alabama

Midland City, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama

Phoenix, Arizona

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Morgan Hill, California

Havana, Florida

Harlem, Georgia

Franklin Grove, Illinois

Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Indianapolis, Indiana

Des Moines, Iowa

Pacific Junction, Iowa

Andover, Kansas

Benton, Kentucky

Mc Dowell, Kentucky

Aurora, Missouri

Cole Camp, Missouri

Piedmont, Missouri

Southern Pines, North Carolina

Belfield, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Grand Prairie, Texas

New Ulm, Texas

Blacksburg, Virginia

South Boston, Virginia

Troy, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

7
positives
6
neutrals
2
negatives
RatingContent
Positive

On Jan 11, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

The landscape architect planted three shrubs in a small area southwest of the house in northeast IL in the early 1950's. One died out earlier, but the other two survived until about 2000 AD. They bore delicious plums every August. The limited area kept them from getting real big. I've seen some wild ones in various spots around the area, and they are large and ground sucker to form colonies.

Neutral

On Sep 5, 2010, Calsally from Morgan Hill, CA wrote:

There is a wild plum (with wicked thorns) that grows wild in the Santa Cruz mountain area of Northern California. I have started one from runner in my backyard in hot Morgan Hill (summers 90+, rain about 20" per year). In this climate, with only slight summer watering, I have not heard complaints about it going wild. I am hoping not to regret including it. In two years it is 15' tall, but no fruit yet.

Positive

On Jan 31, 2010, suzyplanter from Zushi City
Japan wrote:

I have many wonderful memories of eating these plums as a child at my grandmothers in AL. They were so yummy we didn't care that they were thorny. They sucker and propogate quickly, but that was a perk as far as we kids were concerned. Some years they had fruit by Mother's Day. Some years, they were still fruiting by the 4th of July. I stained more than one Sunday dress with the sweet, juicy fruit. There was a borer worm that killed off the orchard in the early 1970's. It left a sticky residue on the trunks and limbs and the trees died off. It also killed the cherry tree near the same time.

Negative

On Sep 18, 2009, Sylvanmaid from New Ulm, TX wrote:

I am also having a problem with wild plum trees and would like to eradicate - or at least relocate them away - from my horse pasture, mainly because they can be toxic to livestock. I had hoped to let them be, as my horses are well-fed and I thought they would leave them alone. But I catch them nibbling the leaves now and then and it worries me. I hate using any herbicides but I checked to see which would work on plum trees and, just as I suspected, only a really strong herbicides will even make a dent in their growth. Nothing I want to spray around here! So I've been cutting them off one by one by hand, yet they still come back. Their runners are everywhere and it's nearly impossible to get them all. I have plenty of other places where plums can grow and I would welcome them - just ... read more

Positive

On May 15, 2009, GreeneLady from Oak Island, NC (Zone 8a) wrote:

My trees reach about 20-25 feet tall and are loaded with golf ball sized plums which taste like heaven! New leaves on the trees are purpleish red, but will turn green as they get older. The fruit on mine are ripe and ready to eat by the fourth of July and have become a classic food at our family picnics.
Some species of wild plums have thorns, but mine do not.

Neutral

On Apr 27, 2008, Joan from Belfield, ND (Zone 4a) wrote:

Wild plums are a thorny, winter hardy, thicket forming tall shrub with edible fruit. They are important to the wildlife in our area for nesting, loafing, browsing and food.

Pests: Prairie Tent Caterpillar

Diseases: Stem decay, branch cankers, black knot, plum pockets.

Positive

On Jun 14, 2007, mamooth from Indianapolis, IN (Zone 5b) wrote:

I put 3 plum seedlings on a hillside of always-muddy clay where nothing else would grow, and they're thriving. 5 years later, they've expanded into a thicket. The birds and the critters love it, and I rarely get to snag a plum for myself. Japanese beetles love it too, but it's so vigorous that the beetles don't slow it down. This stuff thrives on bad soil and neglect. Just be careful where you put it, because they do sucker explosively, and they're very difficult to kill.

Neutral

On Feb 9, 2007, sladeofsky from Louisville, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

I love these little trees. They are beautiful in flower and fruit, but more rare today because the natural clearings they once inhabited are the same sort of areas we like to build on, pave, or plow under. I have seen trees absolutely coverd in fruit. But I have never tasted them. Remember native plants and animals evolved together and the birds always get the jump on us humans. So if you want to grow these for fruit, I would recommend netting.

Neutral

On May 25, 2006, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

My images are of the Non-Fruiting variety of Prunus americana (Flowering Plum) that grows all over Phoenix, Arizona. It blooms in Late Winter (Late January/Early February) in zone 9b.

Positive

On Apr 9, 2006, tsb from Southern Pines, NC wrote:

Excellent fruit, no maintenance, beautiful flowers. Grows wild in Carolina Sandhills on dry, sandy ridgelines and abandoned agricultural fields. Very hardy species.

Positive

On Mar 21, 2005, chicochi3 from Fayetteville, AR (Zone 6b) wrote:

An early bloomer in spring. Small fruits that can be eaten if you want to go to the work considering that you get very little food from each fruit. Great food for wild birds and squirrels in the area. Easily grown from seed.

Neutral

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

Wild plums can be an attractive little landscape tree if you can put it in the middle of the lawn and always keep the grass mowed around it.This will prevent the problems with the suckers.However if it is put in an area that never gets mowed it could be a real problem.They will sucker as far as 25 feet from the parent tree.

Negative

On Sep 9, 2004, rocket1313 from Camden, SC wrote:

I hate wild plum bushes. We have 32 acres that we are trying to clear and they are everywhere. We can't kill them. They flatten our tractor tires.
I have been out there with my clippers and handsaw cutting then down, one at a time. Some of them, we have hooked chains around them and pulled them up with a tractor or a truck.

I am trying to find a way to get rid of them. If anyone knows how, please e-mail.
staff@clayhillsaloon.com

Positive

On Jul 7, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Plum thickets are a vanishing sight. It's something that used to be common before the countryside was developed.

Great fruits that make exceptional jelly, we picked many bucketfulls as children and had the jelly all winter.

The trees are hardly larger than big bushes, rarely taller than 20 feet. One of the first things to bloom in the Spring.

Neutral

On Jan 24, 2004, Farmerdill from Augusta, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Wild goose plums spring up readily in old fields in the Virginia piedmont. The plum are edible but have a peculiar flavor and are clingstone. I ate them as a kid when other fruits weren't available. They ripened between the wild strawberries and the huckleberries. They could be an atractive shrub/tree and in the wild are good for wildlife.