American Plum

Botanical Name: Prunus americana

Other Common Names: Wild plum

Brief Description and Notes: Thicket-forming small tree; look for the fragrant white flowers in early spring and the edible red fruits in late summer. The ovate, toothed leaves turn yellow/red in fall. 

Where To Look For It: Sunny to partly shaded areas with loamy soil; can also occur in rocky or sandy soil; in woodlands, abandoned farms, upland pastures hedgerows

Ornamental Value: Showy and fragrant early spring flowers, graceful crown shape; adaptable and fairly hardy 

Ecological Value & Roles: The thicketing habit provides good cover for wildlife. Host plant for several butterflies. Some birds and mammals eat the fruit, though it probably isn’t their first choice. 

Edibility and Other Human Use: The skins of the fruit can be a bit tough and sour, but the flesh inside is sweet. Excellent for jams and jellies. 


Photo courtesy of R.W. Smith, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox