Content Detail

Wild plum, also called American plum is a small, fast-growing, short-lived, colony-forming native tree, commonly found along fencerows, open fields, and roadsides. Abundant tiny white flowers open before the leaves emerge in spring. Plums appear in late summer.

This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Planting site Residential and parks, Under utility lines
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Mature height 15-25 feet
  • Mature width 15-25 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Chicago), Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Clay soil, Dry sites, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early fall, early spring, mid fall, mid spring
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Thicket-forming
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Planting considerations Aggressive, Excessive sucker growth
  • Wildlife Birds, Browsers, Insect pollinators, Medium mammals, Small mammals
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat: 

C-Value: 5 This plant is native to a large portion of North America.

Bark color and texture: 

Young bark is dark red-brown. As the bark ages it peels to some degree and has a number of lenticels present.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

Alternate, simple, deciduous leaves have serrate margins. The leaves are oval to elongated and 2 to 4 inches long. Dark green in summer, they turn to yellow-orange in the fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Showy, white to pinkish flowers in clusters bloom in early spring. They have an unpleasant smell.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Fruit are sweet, edible plums with a pink to red skin, about 1 inch in diameter.

Plant care:

This tree can be a high maintenance plant due to suckering and self-seeding.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Susceptible to many diseases and insects, including black knot, mildew, rust, root rots, fire blight, borers, mites and tent caterpillars. Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

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