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Prunus americana - Marshall.

Common Name American Plum, American Wild Plum, Wild Plum
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness 3-8
Known Hazards Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.
Habitats Rich soils in mixed deciduous woodland, by streams, on the borders of swamps and in hedgerows[43, 62, 82].
Range N. America - New York to Florida, extending westwards as far as the Rocky Mountains.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Prunus americana American Plum, American Wild Plum,  Wild Plum


http://www.flickr.com/photos/28340342@N08
Prunus americana American Plum, American Wild Plum,  Wild Plum

 

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Summary

Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Rounded.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Prunus americana is a deciduous Tree growing to 6 m (19ft 8in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen in August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Seed
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw, cooked in pies etc or used in preserves[1, 2, 55, 62, 183]. The flesh is succulent and juicy, though it is rather acid with a tough skin[85, 159]. The best forms are pulpy and pleasant tasting[183, 227]. The fruit is best cooked[159], and it can also be dried for later use[85]. The fruit is about 25mm in diameter and contains one large seed[200]. Seed - raw or cooked[85, 183]. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter - see the notes above on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antiasthmatic  Astringent  Disinfectant  Diuretic  Miscellany  Poultice

A tea made from the scraped inner bark is used as a wash to treat various skin problems and as a mouth wash to treat sores[213]. A poultice of the inner bark is disinfectant and is used as a treatment on cuts and wounds[257]. The bark is astringent, diuretic and pectoral[257]. It has been used to make a cough syrup[257]. An infusion has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea, kidney and bladder complaints[257]. An infusion of the twigs has been used in the treatment of asthma[257]. Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being[238].

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Other Uses

Broom  Disinfectant  Dye  Miscellany  Rootstock  Soil stabilization  Wood

A green dye can be obtained from the leaves[168]. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit[168]. A red dye can be obtained from the roots[257]. This species is widely used as a rootstock for cultivated plums in North America[160]. The tough, elastic twigs can be bound into bundles and used as brooms for sweeping the floor[257]. Trees often grow wild along streams, where their roots tend to prevent soil erosion[226]. Wood - heavy, hard, close-grained, strong[82]. It weighs 45lb per cubic foot[227]. Of no commercial value because the trunk is too small[227].

Special Uses

Food Forest

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Espalier, Pest tolerant, Specimen. Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, doing well on limestone[11, 200]. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present[1]. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position[11, 200]. Trees are probably hardy to as low as -50°c when fully dormant[160]. A fast-growing but short-lived tree in the wild[229], it is cultivated for its edible fruit in N. America, where there are many named varieties[1, 11, 46]. It flowers well in Britain but rarely fruits well here[11]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[238]. Plants often produce suckers at the roots and form thickets[227]. The branches are brittle[101]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200]. Special Features: North American native, Edible, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Attracts butterflies, Blooms are very showy. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 8 through 1. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. A sprouting standard sending up shoots from the base [1-2]. The root pattern is flat with shallow roots forming a plate near the soil surface [1-2]. The root pattern is suckering with new plants from underground runners away from the plant [1-2].

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Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

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Propagation

Seed - requires 2 - 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[200]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible[200]. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate[113]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame. Difficult, if not impossible. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Difficult, it not impossible. Suckers in late winter.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Author

Marshall.

Botanical References

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Links / References

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Readers comment

   Jul 17 2011 12:00AM

My garden is in North East England. One of these trees grows in my garden. It bears fruit every year, this year there is more than ever. I did not plant this tree and would love to know where it came from as there is not another one in the area.Could a bird have dropped a stone ? Or maybe a squirrel buried one. Are they a common tree in the UK?

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Subject : Prunus americana  
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