Mexican plum, also called bigtree, is a single-trunked, non-suckering tree, 15-35 ft. tall, with fragrant, showy, white or pale pink flowers up to an inch wide, appearing in masses in early spring. Flowers are ffollowed by fruits that turn from yellow to mauve to purple as they ripen from July through September. Trunk becomes satiny, blue-gray with darker, horizontal striations as it matures, much like a cherry tree. Fall foliage is a showy orange.
Usually found on woodland edges or in open fields, Mexican plum is best sited in full to part sun. Adaptable to a wide range of soil types, and drought-tolerant once established.
Native just to our south, we’re including this plant as a food plant, as well as an important contribution for species that are documented to be moving north.
As a member of the Prunus family, this small tree hosts 381 species of Lepidoptera larvae, including the purple crested slug and the laurel sphinx moths, as well as the coral hairstreak, eastern tiger swallowtail and the spring/summer azure. The plums are eaten by a variety of wildlife including turkey, black bear, grosbeaks and quail. Twigs and foliage provide browse for deer species (young plants should be caged until well-established). The flowers are a favorite of early spring pollinators.
Medicinal and Edible Uses:
Fruits can be eaten raw or cooked. The flesh is thick and juicy, and of varying palatability, depending on sun and soil conditions. Seeds should not be consumed if they are bitter. All members of the Prunus genus contain varying amounts of amygdalin and prunasin, which break down to form cyanide, a bitter-tasting compound.
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