Prunus mexicana

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: Mexican plum 
Type: Tree
Family: Rosaceae
Native Range: United states
Zone: 6 to 8
Height: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy, Edible

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zone 6 where it is best grown in rich, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Drought tolerant once established.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Prunus mexicana, commonly known as Mexican plum, is a small, upright, non-suckering, usually single-trunked, small tree that may grow to a shrubby 8-15’ tall but most frequently matures to 15-25’ tall. It is native from the southeastern corner of South Dakota to Ohio south to Alabama, Texas and northeastern Mexico. It is native to woodlands and thickets throughout the State of Missouri (Steyermark). Trees are also widely cultivated on the West Coast.

Main features of this tree are (1) fragrant showy white flowers (to 1” diameter) in small clusters which bloom in spring (April – May) before or as the leaves appear, (2) ovate to elliptic, leaves (to 5” long and 2” wide) are yellow-green above and soft hairy beneath with double-toothed margins, (3) edible plums (to 1” diameter) which emerge yellow but ripen on the tree from July to September to rose, lavender or purple covered with a gray-glaucous bloom, (4) smooth reddish-gray bark which matures over time to blue-gray with a rough texture, darker horizontal striations and exfoliating patches, and (5) yellow, but sometimes a more attractive orange and red, fall foliage color.

This tree is a larval host for the tiger swallowtail butterfly and cecropia moth. Fruit is consumed by birds and mammals.

Genus name from Latin means plum or cherry tree.

Specific epithet is in reference to the native territory of this plant being in part in Mexico.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. In the event harvest of fruit for human consumption is a goal, some chemical spraying may be necessary in order to insure a good fruit harvest.

Garden Uses

Interesting landscape tree. It is best sited in areas where fruit drop in fall, which can be messy, will occur in areas where foot traffic does not frequently occur (e.g., away from patios, decks or sidewalks). Plums may be eaten fresh off the tree or made into tasty preserves and jellies.