Flatwoods plum

Prunus umbellata
Family: Rosaceae

Natural History

Flatwoods plum, also called hog plum, is a small understory tree found in river, swamps, hardwood hammocks, and pine flatwoods. It ranges from southern North Carolina to central Florida and west to central Texas, northward in the Mississippi Valley to southern Arkansas.

Flatwoods plum is a valuable food source to whitetail deer, black bears, foxes, raccoons, squirrels, and many birds. These animals help disperse the tree's seeds.

The purple fruits are tart and rich in pectin. They are used to make jellies, preserves, tart pies, or jams.

The hard, heavy, and close-grained wood is not valued commercially because the dark reddish-brown wood comes from an often small, crooked tree.

In 1974, a national champion flatwoods plum was discovered in Colclough Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, Florida. It had a 39" circumference, reached a height of 33', and had 28' spread.


Identifying Characteristics

Size/Form: Flatwoods plum is a small tree that is generally less than 20' in height. Its crown is usually spreading and form is often crooked. It does not occur in thickets as a large shrub.
Leaves: The leaves are simple, alternately arranged, deciduous, and 2" to 2¾" long by 1" to 1½" wide. The small oblong-lance shaped leaves usually have smooth, dark green upper surfaces and paler, smooth to hairy under surfaces. The leaf base is rounded to slightly heart-shaped and the leaf tip is pointed. The margin is finely serrated.
Fruit: The purplish-black or dark red fruit is a round drupe that is ½" in diameter and has a waxy-like skin.
Bark: The bark is thin, smooth, red brown to black in color, often becoming rough with age.
Habitat: Flatwoods plum grows in mixed pine-hardwood forests, hammocks, coastal scrub, and swamps near streams and rivers.



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