Questions on American Plum, Chickasaw Plum, & Beach Plum

njbiologyMarch 20, 2010


I have limited space and will definitely be planting beach plum (Prunus maritima). However, I may also want to grow either American plum (P. americana) or Chickasaw plum (P. angustifolia), as well.

1. Are American plum and Chickasaw plum self-fertile; and will the cross-pollinate for successful fruiting if one of each of these are placed within vicinity of each other?

2. Can American and Chickasaw plums be maintained at 5' x 5' continually and not suffer as a result?

3. Will these two plums fruit in partial-shade?

4. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Which tastes better - American plum or Chickasaw plum?

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Hi -- I know some of the answers to your questions.

American plum self-fertile -- seems to be. I had 2 and then cut down one after it got old and started to go - the other still seems to bear well. There are other plums around the yard, plus various wild Prunus species in the neighborhood, plus various oranmental plum and sandcherries in the neighborhood as well.

2) 5 x 5 foot size. Yeah, I don't see a real problem with it. My 2 American plum seedlings grew naturally to about 7 to 8 feet max, with probably a 6 to 8 foot spread. So, with a little pruning, probably not too much of a problem.

3) Partial shade -- definitely. My surviving one is in about 2/3rds shade now, as the trees around it have gotten larger, and it seems perfectly happy as an understory type tree. It still gets pretty good light because the two trees near it are a Kentucky Coffe and a Sycamore, and both don't start to branch until very high off the ground.

4) Taste -- Well, the fruits of my plum are quite tasty when fully ripe and slightly soft. They have a bit of astringency when not fully ripe. They make wonderful plum sauce, jelly, baked tarts, etc.

I've never had the Chickasaw plum, so can't comment. I did plant a beach plum last year, but it's still only a foot tall.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 4:24PM
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Thank you for this information. I will plant them in the understory of some common persimmon trees that are in full-sun. I see Chickasaw plum in nurseries often; never P. americana, around here - NJ. I can tell you that you will love beach plum - I am skeptical if there can be a better native plum species than beach plum. If you can, something I will need to do myself: try to get a grafted cultivar of P. maritima; however, the wild ones always taste great (not something I can always say of common persimmon).

I am considering planting a pin cherry but I don't want it to be a tree that will get wider then 18'. If you know pin cherry, do you think that the fruit will be better than choke cherry (a horribly susceptible x-not spreader)?

What do you think of eastern sand cherry?

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 4:45PM
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Good luck keeping P.angustifolia contained, unless you're committed to frequent mowing. By nature, they are programmed to form thickets - throwing up suckers for tens of yards in all directions.

Only experience with P.americana here are a few row-run seedlings I purchased for use as rootstocks, and never got around to grafting. Pretty unimpressing - both in productivity and flavor, and I'd give the nod to my native Chickasaws any day - but I might just have poor-quality americana stock.

Had two P.maritima growing here for well over a decade; they never bloomed in synch, and only one ever fruited; both have died out- though I think the last one to turn toes up actually has some suckers popping up about 10 ft away. Very tart little fruits without much pulp surrounding the pits - but I never saw any brown rot on them, and the fruits stayed on the plant - critters didn't favor them, and if you didn't pick them, they just dehydrated while still hanging tightly to the bush.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 6:25PM
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I eat wild plum jelly and jam fairly often and the ones nonspecifically labeled "wild plum jam" are usually better than ones specifically sold as "sand plum" or "sandhill plum" which have been somewhat salty or less sweet. But that's just being bought at farmers markets and could be differences in how they're made.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 3:04AM
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I have heard that of the native plums, wild goose Plum is the best. I have a couple young ones from Oikos tree crops that should have their first fruit this year.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 6:12AM
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Chickasaw plums grow wild around here and will take over a pasture if you don't keep them mowed down. They don't get very big but they taste good and are great for making wine or jelly.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 11:49AM
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I have a miscellaneous Red/Purple leaf plum growing in my yard.. Came up as a sucker off of a friend's red leaf plum....

From that perspective... I suppose I can't definitively call it a Red leaf American plum..... although that's what they said it was....

But... They are pretty darned good when fully ripe... Very good brix + a good tangy flavor.... Astringent before it's fully ripe. Makes great jelly - even if picked unripe... Lots of flavor and no astringency in the jelly. Bug and disease wise - definitely less issues than with my Methley... though I still spray... It is susceptible to PC - though once again, not as bad as my Methley...

It does sucker profusely... Easy enough to mow down the suckers and/or trim the ones near the stump.... I have a feeling, though, that it's a natural defense mechanism against the gigantic Borer issue we tend to run into... One stalk may die off - but 20 more pop up from the roots and it still lives.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 7:07PM
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