Shrubs of Wisconsin

Prunus americana Marshall
wild plum
Family: Rosaceae
plant branch leaf flowers thorns and immature fruit mature fruit twig

Mature plants of Prunus americana are relatively easy to identify. They often have thorns, tend to form dense stands through vegetative reproduction and in the fall may bear large, edible fruits. The thorns have dull surfaces marked by the presence of small buds (or their scars). The thorns of the similar Crataegus are shiny and smooth. The buds of Crataegus are usually red and blunt and the buds of Prunus americana are brown and clearly sharp pointed. Fast growing sprouts of Prunus americana may not develop thorns. The very similar Prunus nigra differs in its gland tipped teeth on leaves and sepals.

Prunus americana ranges from Maine to Manitoba and south to Iowa and Massachusetts. It is common in the southern third of Wisconsin, scattered north of that region, and apparently absent from the northernmost counties (except near Lake Superior on Bayfield County, and on the Apostle Islands). It is fairly common in Brown County. It does best on open or lightly shaded sites and is often found in fencerows.


known Wisconsin distribution


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