Natural Highlights: Chickasaw Plum


On Feb. 25th at Shelby Farms Park, volunteers planted 500 native trees of the following species:  Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida), Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), American Holly (Ilex opaca), Common Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), Parsley Hawthorn (Crataegus marshallii), and Chickasaw plum (Prunus angustifolia). We highlight the Chickasaw Plum below, a shrubby tree cultivated by the Chickasaw Indians for its fruit, and attractive to a wide variety of wildlife including native bees, butterflies, and birds.  

The following information on the Chickasaw Plum (Prunus angustifolia) is from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, an excellent native plant resource.

The Chickasaw Plum is a twiggy, thicket-forming tree, 15-30 ft. tall, with fragrant white flowers in flat-topped clusters and yellow fruit ripening to red in August or September. It has a short, crooked trunk and flat-topped crown; scaly, nearly black bark; reddish branches covered with thorn-like side branches; pale yellow fall foliage.  It is a thicket-forming shrub or sometimes a small tree, with slender, spreading branches, small white flowers, and red plums.

Cultivated by the Chickasaw Indians and other indigenous peoples before the arrival of Europeans, the fruit of the Chickasaw Plum is eaten fresh and made into jellies and preserves. Improved varieties are grown in the Southeast.

Ornamental: Attractive, aromatic thicket plum for landscape restorations and shelter belt plantings. 
Wildlife: Birds and mammals eat the fruit. Various insects visit the flowers or utililize the plant in other ways. Provides cover and nesting sites for wildlife.  
Food: Ripe fruit can be eaten fresh and is made into jellies, desserts, and preserves. 
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds, butterflies, bees. Recognized by pollination ecologists as attracting large numbers of native bees
Nectar Source: yes   

Water Use: Low , Medium 
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade 
Soil Moisture: Dry 
CaCO3 Tolerance: High 
Soil Description: Sandy, loose.  (But grows well in clay soils, too).
Conditions Comments: In full sun, will be more dense and full and will colonize more thickly. In the part shade of woodlands, will be more airy, loose, and delicate in appearance and will colonize more loosely.


Posted by Cathy Justis at 9:34 AM