Wild Plums are in bloom! These days are a great time to trek around your environs to see all the changes occurring with plants. On the Northern Plains, we wait well past the calendar date to see spring reflected in plants.
Some trees bloom first, and others leaf out before blooming. A few do both. The wild plum (Prunus americana) blooms first. In Lakota, Kanntahu can means “red plum moon, the month of August” when native plums are ripe. Wild plums are native in the eastern and central United States. Early botanists who visited the plains remarked about them in Spring. Information from: Trees! Field Guide by Dr. John Ball.
These hardy plums grow wild in thickets, and woody draws in alkaline soil and supply many treats to birds. Less than 15 feet tall, the small tree’s life span is 15 – 30 years. The fragrant white flowers display against the green haze of early spring. Once an area is under cultivation, the plum trees seem to disappear.
They often grow near water. One of the places they are showy now is at Lewis & Clark Recreation Area. You can see a plum thicket (center) by a stand of native grass from the highway.
Part of exploring the changes around us in spring is finding something unexpected. A plum thicket may be around the next curve. Enjoy the surprises of spring!
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Hey, I grew that, . . . actually just one survived from some seed that I purchased online. The species is naturalized here because it was used as understock for some of the orchard trees here a very long time ago. I got the seed just because I wanted a tree comparable to what is found in the wild, rather than a feral seedling from an understock cultivar. I do not know if it makes a difference, and will probably never know. I would like to grow Chickasaw plum too.
The surprises of spring are truly so delightful. Nature really freshens us up after cold winter days.