Prunus cerasifera 'Thundercloud'
Common Name: cherry plum
Type: Tree
Family: Rosaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Light pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Colorful
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy, Edible

Culture

Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Best flowering is in full sun. Plants may spread or naturalize by self-seeding.

Best purple leaf color occur in full sun locations. Leaves become green in shady locations.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Prunus cerasifera, commonly called cherry plum or Myrobalan plum, is native to western Asia and the Caucasus. Today, it only exists in cultivation except for the many situations where it has escaped gardens and naturalized. Naturalization has occurred in the U.S., primarily in the northeast and far west. This is a small, sometimes spiny, deciduous tree typically growing to 15-30’ tall with a shrubby, spreading, rounded habit. Very fragrant, mostly solitary, 5-petaled, white flowers (to 1” across) bloom in early spring. Flowers are followed by small edible fruits (to 1” diameter) that are sweet but somewhat tasteless. Ovate, elliptic or obovate, thin, serrate leaves (to 2.5” long). No fall color. Species plants are uncommonly sold in commerce, but a number of purple-leaved cultivars have become quite popular. Species is sometimes used as a rootstock for other stone fruits. Myrobalan is derived from the Greek words myron (plant juice) and balanos (nut).

Genus name from Latin means plum or cherry tree.

Specific epithet is derived from the Latin words cerasus meaning cherry tree and ferre meaning to bear.

'Thundercloud' is purple-leaved cultivar that typically grows as a dense, upright-spreading tree to 15-25' tall. It has become a very popular ornamental landscape tree in large part because its showy purple foliage retains excellent color throughout the growing season. Leaves (to 2.5” long) emerge ruby red in spring, but mature to dark reddish-purple. Flowers are followed by small edible fruits (purple plums to 1” diameter).

Problems

Susceptible to a large number of insect and disease pests. Potential diseases include black knot, leaf spot, die back, leaf curl, powdery mildew, root rot and fireblight. Potential insects include borers, aphids, scale, leafhoppers, caterpillars, tent caterpillars and Japanese beetles. Spider mites may also be troublesome.

Fruit drop can create a litter problem in fall.

Garden Uses

This purple leaved cultivar is commonly planted as a landscape specimen.