Chickasaw Plum, Prunus angustifolia, is a large shrub or small flowering tree (15-30 ft. tall) that is twiggy and thicket-forming in its natural habitat. Highly fragrant flat-topped clusters of white flowers appear in early spring and will mature in yellow fruit that ripens to red in August or September. Cultivated by the Chickasaw Indians and other indigenous peoples before European arrival, the plums can be eaten fresh or made into jellies and preserves. The bark is highly attractive, beginning smooth and containing numerous red, elongated light lenticels, before becoming scaly and shallowly furrowed as it matures. This species grows best in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. To prevent unwanted spread, it is important to promptly remove root suckers. However this plant is highly adaptable and can thrive in a variety of growing conditions and soils. In addition to being a pollinator favorite, this species is also a larval host for Coral Hairstreak, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Spring Azure, Viceroy, and Red-spotted Purple.
Photo: Homer Edward Price, North Carolina Plant Toolbox