Native Tree of the Week – Canada Plum

Canada plum flower

Canada Plum

As much as we love trees for their natural beauty, their shade, and their environmental benefit, trees that also produce food for humans hold a special place in our hearts. We’ve already covered an unusual fruit-bearing tree in this series, but for this installment we’ll examine a tree with a familiar name: the Canada Plum. This small tree, also called Horse Plum, is native to the southern parts of eastern Canada, and in addition to its prodigious fruit-bearing abilities, the Canada Plum boasts a showy display of fragrant white flowers each spring, which is one of the reasons why you can often find cultivars that have been developed as ornamentals.

Canada Plum Description

Canada Plum trees are small, growing only up to around 9 meters high, and the crown is flat but irregular. Part of the Rose family, the tree often grows on the outskirts of forests and in thickets in the wild, and somewhat resembles the common rose bush with its thorny, tough branches. Also like the rose, the Canada Plum’s flowers bloom in the midst of the thorns: little 5-petaled, dove-white flowers appear in bunches along branches at the same time as new leaf growth every spring. The leaves are alternate and toothed, 6-12 centimeters long and narrow quickly at a long, slender tip. The fruits are an orange-red, and they ripen somewhere between August and September. Pretty much every part of the Canada Plum tree other than the fruit contains hydrocyanic acid and can be poisonous to humans, including the stone or seed inside the fruits, so it’s important to use caution when preparing plum fruits for consumption. The fruits can be eaten raw, and also make a delightful, slightly sour jam.

Canada plum bark

Canada Plum Tree Planting

Canada Plum trees like soils with plenty of lime, and they prefer well-drained soil and full sun. Because of their diminutive size they are a prime candidate for urban backyards where there is limited space. The trees are also susceptible to late frost damage; fences and garages provide excellent windblocks and protect the tree from cold winds. Young trees need water consistently, so if you experience dry weather for an extended time you should water your tree.

If you have a plum tree that you would like pruned, give us a call!

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