Canadian Wild Plum, Prunus nigra

Canadian Wild Plum

Prunus nigra

Benefits:
Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Spring
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Loam
Soil Moisture: Moist
Color: Pink, White
Fragrance: No
Height: 10-16 feet
Spacing: 10 feet


Description

Canadian Wild Plum, Prunus nigra, is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 33 feet tall with a trunk up to 25 cm diameter, with a low-branched, dense crown of stiff, rigid, branches. The bark is gray-brown, older layers coming off in thick plates. The branchlets are bright green at first, later become dark brown tinged with red, and spiny. The winter buds are chestnut brown, long-pointed at the tip, up to 0.31 inches long.

The leaves are alternate, simple, oblong-ovate or obovate, 2.0–4.7 inches long and 1.2–2.8 inches wide, wedge-shaped or slightly heart-shaped or rounded at base, doubly crenaulate-serrate, abruptly contracted to a narrow point at the apex, feather-veined, midrib conspicuous; they emerge from the bud convolute, downy, slightly tinged with red, are smooth, becoming bright green above and paler beneath when full grown. The leaf petioles are stout, bearing two large dark glands and early deciduous, lanceolate or three to five-lobed stipules.

The flowers are 0.59–0.98 inches in diameter, with five rounded petals, white fading to pale pink, with a more or less irregularly notched margin; they are slightly fragrant, borne in three to four-flowered umbels, with short, thick peduncles, and appear before the leaves in mid to late spring. The flower stalks are slender and dark red. The calyx is conic, dark red, five-lobed, the lobes acute, finally reflexed, glandular, smooth on the inner surface, imbricate in bud, ovate, with short claws, imbricate in bud. There are 15–20 stamens, inserted on the calyx tube; filaments thread-like; anthers purplish, introrse, two-celled; cells opening longitudinally; the pistil has a superior ovary in the bottom of calyx tube, one-celled, with two ovules.

The fruit is an oblong-oval drupe, 25–30 millimetres (0.98–1.18 in) long with a tough, thick, orange red skin, free from bloom, yellow flesh adherent to the stone; the stone oval, compressed. The fruit is somewhat sour, clingstone, and very juicy. It can be eaten raw when fully ripe, or cooked and made into pies, preserves and jellies. Dried, these plums were a popular winter staple of indigenous peoples It matures in late summer or early autumn. The cotyledons are thick and fleshy. The species grows best in alluvial soils.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  The wood is bright red brown; heavy, hard, strong and close-grained, with a density of 0.6918.
  When wounded the wood turns an attractive red colour, and sawlogs of intentionally wounded trees are sought after by wood turners.
Further Information

Wild Ones of the Fox Valley Area
Prairie Nursery
Wisconsin DNR
Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries