Mexican Plum (Prunus mexicana)
As you look out in the understory of our urban forest this month you’ll find a multitude of plums forming on our tree of the month, the Mexican Plum (also known as the Big Tree Plum). Earlier this spring the trees were covered in a cascade of white-pink flowers that beckon a soft scent of spring. The flower petals quickly fall and leaves begin to appear. The leaves are ovate with serrate margins and have a rough texture. The bark is a beautiful blue-gray with light and dark horizontal striations. The trunk is known for not suckering and thus the root stock is used extensively for grafting. It’s a small understory tree usually from 15 to 35 feet tall. You’ll typically see this relatively drought tolerant tree in rich soils along rivers, in prairies, and open woods. Although the plums are green right now they will ripen in late summer to colors of yellow, purple, and mauve. The fruit is enjoyed by birds, small mammals, and humans. This lovely deciduous tree offers interest for all seasons.