American Plum – Prunus americana- Zone 2
Characteristics of the tree
The fruit of the American plum tree is small, round, and firm, on average 1 inch in diameter. The skin is bright red with a slightly waxy texture. Skin has a notably acidic taste and some astringency.
The flesh is orange/yellow, more fleshy than juicy, pleasantly sweet and aromatic with a touch of acidity. The flesh adheres to the stone.
Good for eating fresh, it is nonetheless best used for cooking in compotes and jellies.
Since these trees are seedlings, fruit characteristics will vary slightly from tree to tree.
The American plum tree grows as a small shrub or tree, reaching up to 15 or 20 feet in height.
It is vigorous with a suckering habit that causes it to form dense colonies in the wild. This makes it an excellent choice for hedgerows, borders of fields, and erosion control.
The bark is an attractive reddish-brown that darkens with age and its leaves are oblong, 3 or 4 inches long with toothed borders.
The tree is self- fertile and productive, offering an impressive show of fragrant white flowers in spring and consistently generous harvests of fruit in mid to late August. The beautiful flower display alone is justification enough to grow these trees.
It is an extremely hardy tree, growing well up to zone 2. It grows best in well-drained soil and with plenty of sun but will do well in a wide range of conditions, as demonstrated by its native range that now extends from one end of the continent to the other.
These trees are loved by wildlife of all sorts with the dense thickets that they form in the wild offering shelter to birds and the abundance of fruit nourishing a wide range of birds and animals.
The American plum plum a great pollinator for American and Asian plum trees and their hybrids.
Plum tree pollination is somewhat complex and most hybrid plum trees are not effective pollinators for one another. Without a wild plum tree planted nearby, production is not likely to be good even if you have several varieties close to one another.
Our American Plum trees are produced from seeds collected from isolated trees without other plum trees nearby to cross-pollinate them. They are therefore guaranteed to be ‘pure American Plum.’
Plums are fast-growing trees, but stay relatively small. A plum tree at maturity will not usually exceed 5 metres or 16 feet in height. Its life expectancy is also quite short: one can generally expect it to live between 30 and 50 years. This illustration shows a 20-year-old plum tree that has attained its maximum height.
You should note that this illustration is meant only to give a general indication of what you can expect, and the growth of your tree might look somewhat different. The development of a tree depends on the soil type, irrigation, fertilisation and climatic conditions. What we show here is based on our observation of the growth of plum trees in zone 4, in rather poor soil. In zone 2, growth will probably be slower, while in a rich soil it could be faster.
All our plum trees are sold bare-root, without pots. They have been cultivated directly in our soil. Bare-root trees must be taken out of the ground and shipped during their period of dormancy, which is why we only ship trees in the spring. A big advantage with these kinds of trees, is that they take up very little space, and can therefore be easily shipped by mail all over Canada!
This photograph shows a 2-3-foot plum tree, just like one that you might receive. Depending on the height you choose at the time of purchase, the tree might be a little smaller (1-2 feet) or somewhat taller (3-5 feet.)
Our plum varieties are hybrids of Canadian, American and Japanese plums. If you are thinking of planting a plum tree, it is important to understand how their pollination works. Hybrid plum trees are self-sterile, and cannot produce fruit alone. Moreover, they are not good pollinators for one another. Even if you plant two different varieties next to each other, you are unlikely to harvest any fruit.
Instead, hybrid plum trees need a wild plum tree to pollinate them: either the Canada plum (Prunus nigra) which is considered the best pollinator, or the American plum (Prunus americana) which also works well. So if you intend to plant plum trees, you must also plant at least one of these nearby, unless of course you already happen to have one. One wild plum tree is enough to pollinate up to around five grafted plum trees.
One drawback of plum trees is that they tend to flower early, making them sensitive to freezing in late frosts. Some microclimates help to mitigate this, such as the proximity of a lake or ocean. We also have a trick to help prevent them from flowering too early: applying a layer of mulch or compost underneath the base of the tree while there is still a good amount of snow on the ground. This insulates the snow underneath, so that it melts more slowly, and by maintaining a colder environment around the base of the tree, delays the start of its flowering period.