Drupaceae Plum Family

Trees or shrubs; bark exuding gum; bark, leaves, and especially seeds of

several species abounding in prussic acid; leaves simple, alternate,

mostly serrate; stipules small, soon falling; leafstalk often with one

to several glands; flowers in umbels, racemes, or solitary, regular;

calyx tube free from the ovary, 5-lobed; petals 5, inserted on the

calyx; stamens indefinite, distinct, inserted with the petals; pistil 1,

vary with 1 carpel, 1-seeded; fruit a more or less fleshy drupe.

=Prunus nigra, Ait.=

Prunus Americana, var. nigra, Waugh.


=Habitat and Range.=--Native along streams and in thickets, often

spontaneous around dwellings and along fences.

From Newfoundland through the valley of the St. Lawrence to Lake


Maine,--abundant in the northern sections and common throughout; New

Hampshire and Vermont,--frequent, especially in the northern sections;

Massachusetts,--occasional; Rhode Island and Connecticut,--not reported.

Rare south of New England; west to Wisconsin.

=Habit.=--A shrub or small tree, 20-25 feet high; trunk 5-8 inches in

diameter; branches stout, ascending, somewhat angular, with short, rigid

branchlets, forming a stiff, narrow head.

=Bark.=--Bark of trunk grayish-brown, smooth in young trees, in old

trees separating into large plates; smaller branches dark brown,

season's shoots green.

=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds small, ovate, acute, dark brown.

Leaves 3-5 inches long, light green on the upper side, paler beneath,

pubescent when young; outline ovate-obovate or orbicular,

crenulate-serrate; teeth not bristle-tipped; apex abruptly acuminate;

base wedge-shaped, rounded, somewhat heart-shaped, or narrowing to a

short petiole more or less red-glandular near the blade; stipules

usually linear, ciliate, soon falling.

=Inflorescence.=--Appearing in May before the leaves, in lateral,

2-3-flowered, slender-stemmed umbels; flowers about an inch broad, white

when expanding, turning to pink; calyx 5-lobed, glandular; petals 5,

obovate-oblong, contracting to a claw; stamens numerous; style 1, stigma


=Fruit.=--A drupe, oblong-oval, 1-1-1/2 inches long, orange or

orange-red, skin tough, flesh adherent to the flat stone and pleasant to

the taste. The fruit toward the southern limit of the species is often

abortive, or develops through the growth of a fungus into monstrous


=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy throughout New England, and will grow,

when not shaded, in almost any dry or moist soil. It has a tendency to

sucker freely, forming low, broad thickets, especially attractive from

their early spring flowers and handsome autumn leaves.

1. Winter buds.

2. Flowering branch.

3. Flower with petals removed.

4. Petal.

5. Fruiting branch.

6. Stone.

=Prunus Americana, Marsh.=

A rare plant in New England, scarcely attaining tree-form. The most

northern station yet reported is along the slopes of Graylock,

Massachusetts, where a few scattered shrubs were discovered in 1900 (J.

R. Churchill). In Connecticut it seems to be native in the vicinity of

Southington, shrubs, and small trees 10-15 feet high (C. H. Bissell in

lit., 1900); New Milford and Munroe, small trees (C. K. Averill).

Distinguished from P. nigra by its sharply toothed leaves, smaller

blossoms (the petals of which do not turn pink), and by its globose


1. Winter buds.

2. Flowering branch.

3. Flower with part of perianth and stamens removed.

4. Petal.

5. Flowering branch.

6. Stone.

=Prunus Pennsylvanica, L. f.=