Plums

Native Shrubs ... in wildlife landscaping

West Virginia Native Plant Society
West Virginia Nongame Wildlife Program

Allegheny Sloe - Prunus alleghaniensis
Wild Plum - P. americana
Wild Goose Plum - P. hortulana
  Form: Allegheny Sloe - Scraggly with many dead limbs, 3 to 15 feet tall.
Wild Plum and Wild Goose Plum - Dense growth from 10 to 20 feet tall, rounded crowns.
  Bark and Twigs: Allegheny Sloe - Hairy twigs that are often spine tipped.
Wild Plum - Shaggy bark, short stiff spur branches with sharp tips.
Wild Goose Plum - Grayish-brown bark with horizontal stripes.
  Leaves: Allegheny Sloe - Lance-shaped, broadest at middle, tapers to base, 2 to 4 inches long.
Wild Plum - Broadest at or above the middle, rounded base, 3 to 4 inches long.
Wild Goose Plum - Broadest near base with long pointed tip, dark green, 4 to 6 inches long.
  Flowers: Fragrant white clusters in April and May.
  Fruit: Allegheny Sloe - Dark purple, 1/2 to 3/4 inch diameter, pleasantly acid.
Wild Plum - Red, orange or yellow, thick skinned, 3/4 - 1 inch diameter.
Wild Goose Plum - Light yellow or red, stone pointed on both ends, thin skinned 3/4 to 1-1/4 inch diameter.
West Virginia Range:
Allegheny Sloe - Shale barrens of eastern West Virginia.
Wild Plum - Frequent throughout West Virginia.
Wild Goose Plum - Infrequent in western hills and Ohio River Valley.
Natural Habitat:
Allegheny Sloe - Open dry soils of steep slopes.
Wild Plum and Wild Goose Plum - Streambanks, old fields, fencerows and forest borders.
Wildlife Use:
The flowers provide excellent nectar for bees and butterflies. The fruits are readily eaten by deer, foxes, raccoons, squirrels and some birds, but does not occur when other foods are plentiful. Plum thickets provide good cover and nesting sites.
Horticulture:
Uses: Large masses and borders.
Light: Partial to full sunlight.
Soil Moisture: Moist to dry, well drained and sandy loam are best.
Soil pH: Neutral soils best.
Problems: Relatively free from pests except black knot disease which can disfigure and weaken branches. The spiny branches can pose a safety hazard to people. Plums sprout freely from the roots and can spread into unwanted areas.

Compiled by: William N. Grafton, naturalist, botanist and wildlife specialist, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia

Written by West Virginia Native Plant Society members and jointly published with the WV Nongame Program

Illustration from Flora of West Virginia, Strausbaugh and Core