The Prunus Family

The Prunus Family

The Prunus family is a large, diverse family of trees and shrubs native to North America and Eurasia. It is related to the rose family and includes plums, cherries, apricots, peaches, and almonds.

Many species are important soft mast sources for a wide variety of wildlife, as well as being edible for humans. The most popular of the native North American Prunus species for human consumption include American plum (Prunus americana), Beach plum (Prunus maritima), Black cherry (Prunus serotina), and Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana).

Many species make good ornamental plants thanks to their attractive growing habits and spring blossoms. They are typically small understory trees or bushes that combine well in plantings with larger trees such as oaks or hickories.

Native Plums

  • Alleghany plum (Prunus alleghaniensis)
  • American plum (Prunus americana)
  • Chickasaw plum (Prunus angustifolia)
  • Scrub plum (Prunus geniculata)
  • Oklahoma plum (Prunus gracilis)
  • Harvard’s plum (Prunus harvardii)
  • Hortulan plum (Prunus hortulana)
  • Beach plum (Prunus maritima)
  • Mexican plum (Prunus mexicana)
  • Wild goose plum (Prunus munsoniana)
  • Murray’s plum (Prunus murrayana)
  • Canadian plum (Prunus nigra)
  • Creek plum (Prunus rivularis)
  • Klamath plum (Prunus subcordata)
  • Hog plum (Prunus umbellata)

Native Cherries

  • Alabama cherry (Prunus alabamensis)
  • Carolina laurelcherry (Prunus caroliniana)
  • Bitter cherry (Prunus emarginata)
  • Hollyleaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia)
  • Pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica)
  • Sandcherry (Prunus pumila)
  • Black cherry (Prunus serotina)
  • Sesquehana sandcherry (Prunus susquehanae)
  • Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)

Various Eurasian Prunus species are also well-adapted to parts of North America, including apricots, Sweet cherry, Sour cherry, Nanking cherry, and domestic plums, peaches, and almonds. Like their native relatives, their fruits are extremely popular with both wildlife and humans.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8175535@N05/3526151401/