PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Cherry Plum (Prunus cerasifera)

Also called Myrobalan Plum, it’s a wild plum originally from the Caucasus Mountains at the intersection of Asia and Europe between the Black and Caspian Seas. Over centuries, it has naturalized in the British Isles and a few spots of North America including the Puget Sound area. We inherited some on our nursery property when we moved here in 2007 and have propagated the ones with features we like.

Cherry Plum trees can vary from 15 to 30 feet tall. Ours are from trees that have matured to 15-18 feet – perfect for an urban setting where utility lines above are a limiting factor. It is a popular rootstock for grafting many other stone fruits like peaches, plums, cherries, and nectarines.

The fruit looks almost exactly like a Rainier Cherry – red with a gold blush, or vice-versa, and about 1”-1.25” diameter. It will not be the first choice if you are looking for a big meaty fresh eating plum. These are only cherry sized, but the flavor! Puckery tart skin encloses intensely flavored, very sweet flesh. We think these are the best plums to process into jams, jellies, juice, and wine. We infused clear spirits with them along with a little sugar and it made an amazing cordial.

Cherry Plums flower fairly early – around late March or very early April. Fragrant pinkish white blooms smother the trees for 2-3 weeks feeding the early bees and hummers. Stellar Jays, Robins, and other birds won’t let the extra fruit hit the ground.