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  • Jennifer Anderson

Backyard Foraging

Updated: Sep 15

Looking for fruit and can't find a pawpaw? Try American Red Plum (Prunus Americana). It grows either as a tree or shrub about 20 feet tall and plum-like fruit that ripens in summer.


The plums are about the size of a, well, plum; they have yellow pulp and can be eaten raw (some say they're bitter) or made into tasty jams and pies.

In spring, American plum presents with clusters of white flowers.

And if you're looking for a tree that will feed the bees, look no further! American plum rates "very high" in the EPA's pollinator value scale, attracting Monarchs, butterflies, moths, and a host of bees and other flying things.

Songbirds, deer and small mammals eat the fruit, and birds use the American plum's thickets for cover (it's a bit thorny!).

American plum also is great for erosion control because its roots hold the soil, and it makes a gloriously beautiful natural screen and hedge! Fall foliage is yellow to red. Grows in sun or shade and prefers moist, well-drained soil.


Fun fact: ☺ Some Native American tribes scraped and boiled the bark from the roots of the wild plum and applied it to cuts. (Tom Carpenter, Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, September-October 2017.)


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Sources: Missouri Botanical Garden; Wildflower.org


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