Prunus / plum
Common Name: Plum
Most Prunus varieties grown in North America, including both native and introduced species, constitute excellent pollinator plants for a diversity of spring bees. Notably, these include bumble bees, mining bees, mason bees, and sweat bees. The fruit produced by native Prunus species (primarily plum and cherry varieties) found in natural ecosystems provide a significant food and cover source for many species of birds and mammals. Numerous cultivars of native and introduced species of plum, cherry, peach, and apricot are widely available for both ornamental and fruit-bearing uses in gardens and orchards across North America.
Nationwide, the United States and Canada
2 to 5 feet, depending on species
Prunus americana (American plum, wild plum) is widely distributed over the eastern two-thirds of central North America, growing in prairies, woodlands, pastures, and along roadsides and riverbanks. It is highly important as wildlife cover and food. It produces an abundance of white flowers in mid-spring, which provide valuable forage for numerous spring bee species. The fruit can be eaten fresh, canned, jellied or dried.
Prunus serotina (black cherry) is widespread in eastern North America, from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Quebec, Canada, Minnesota and North Dakota, southward to Florida and east Texas. The leaves, stem, bark, and stone (pit) of black cherry are toxic, due to the presence of a cyanogenic glycoside. The fruit, however, does not contain the poisonous glycoside and provides an important food source for numerous species of birds and mammals, including the red fox, black bear, raccoon, opossum, squirrels, and rabbits. The trees, which can reach 80 feet, produce white blossoms in late spring to early summer, depending on location.
Numerous cultivars of these and other native Prunus varieties, better suited to use in home gardens, are available in nurseries across North America.