It all began years ago, during one of my many walks through our woods. I have always enjoyed identifying tree species and this one had me stumped. I had keyed it out and my tentative id was American Plum, but without hard evidence of its fruit, I hesitated. I was never down in that area when the fruit was evident.
Now that fall is approaching, it’s time to replace old No Hunting signs along the boundary lines and I am ahead of schedule this year. Usually I don’t get down ‘there’ until the weather cools and various forest slitherers and bothersome ticks are less apt to spoil a good hike. But I felt bold today, and luck was looking upon me. As I was walking, along the property line, head down with an eye out for potential ankle twisters, I spotted something new…a red fruit, the size of a cherry, sitting on the ground. Looking up, I realized I was already at the mystery tree. And it was full of the fruit! It was certainly, to me anyway, an AHA! moment.
I gathered some up, leaving plenty for wildlife. Without hesitating, I trudged all the way home to get my camera, lest a strong wind came along and blew the fruit off the branches. Again, lucky me, I am a quick walker, and the fruit were still hanging on by the time I returned.
The American Plum (Prunus Americana) is also known as Wild Plum, August Plum or Hog Plum, and is a small native tree, often shrubby in form. It needs no special treatment and is found in uncultivated areas, often along fencerows. The leaves are alternate, simple, obovate to oblong-ovate, 2-4 inches long and serrated. The fruit is ¾ -1”, red when ripe, sweet tasting with a single pit for a seed.
I learned a valuable lesson today. When you walk the same walk, the same way each time, you will miss out on so many unique opportunities. Change it up a bit. Take a different path from the normal routine and you will be rewarded.
Submitted by Kathy Scott, Master Naturalist
|Distinctive shape of American Plum|
|Ripe fruit of American Plum|