Herbs & Plants

Prunus angustifolia

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Botanical Name : Prunus angustifolia
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Species: P. angustifolia
Order: Rosales

Synonyms: Pruns chicasa.
Common Name : Chickasaw Plum, Watson’s plum, Hally Jolivette Cherry, Cherokee plum, Florida sand plum, sandhill plum, or sand plum

Habitat :Prunus angustifolia is native to South-eastern N. America – New York to Florida, west to Texas. It is usually found in sandy soils, occurring along fence rows, in pastures, fields, stream banks, sand dunes and disturbed sites, often forming thickets.

Prunus angustifolia is a deciduous Tree growing to 3 m (9ft 10in) at a medium rate. The tree is 15 to 20 feet wide in an irregular shape. It is “twiggy” in nature, and has a scaly, almost black bark. Its branches are reddish with thorn-like, small side branches. In February, March, April and May, small white flowers blossom, 8–9 mm wide, along with red plums, up to 25 mm long. The flowers have five white petals with reddish or orange anthers. The plums are cherry-like and tend to be quite tart until they fully ripen. They ripen in late summer. It requires low to medium amounts of water to grow, and dry, sandy or loose soil. It grows best in areas with regular sunlight or areas of partial shade. In sunny areas, it will be more dense and colonize thickly. In areas of partial shade, it will be thinner and less dense, and each plant will be more spread out. P. angustifolia is very difficult to distinguish from Prunus umbellata, with which it hybridizes easily.


The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Cultivation: Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position. Although it should be hardy in all parts of Britain, it grows better in the warmer areas of the country. A fast-growing but short-lived tree in the wild, it has become rather rare in a truly wild state, though it is often cultivated for its edible fruit in N. America. There are some named varieties. The fruit is not freely produced in British gardens. The flowers, which appear just before the leaves unfold, have a refreshing fruity scent. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged. This species suckers freely in the wild, often forming thickets. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus. Special Features: North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Attracts butterflies, Fragrant flowers, Blooms are very showy.

Propagation:  Seed – requires 2 – 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Layering in spring.
Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Fruit; Seed.

Fruit – raw, cooked or dried for later use. Large and thin-skinned with a soft juicy sweet pulp, it has a dlicious flavour and is very good eaten out of hand, whilst it can also be used in pies, preserves etc. The fruit is up to 18mm in diameter. Seed – raw or cooked.
Ripe fruits are slightly tart, but can be eaten or are sometimes made into jellies, desserts and preserves.
Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes below on toxicity.
Medicinal Uses:
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.
Other Uses:
Dye; Shelterbelt; Soil stabilization; Wood.

A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit[168]. This species is sometimes used in shelterbelt planting. It has an extensive root system and often forms thickets, which make it useful for erosion control. Wood – heavy, rather soft, not strong. It weighs 43lb per cubic foot and is of little commercial value.

Landscape Uses:Border, Espalier, Standard, Specimen.

Because they bloom early in the spring, before many other plants bloom, and require very little maintenance, they are often used in horticulture for ornamental use. They are found along many highways, especially in the southern part of the United States. The fruit is eaten by various animals. It also provides cover for nesting sites. Because of its attractive bark, small leaves and thin branches, prunus angustifolia plant is also sometimes used for bonsai.

Known Hazards: Athough no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.