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Published In: Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 17: 353. 1882. (Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts) Name publication detailView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 9/22/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Status: Native


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7. Prunus mexicana S. Watson (big tree plum, wild plum)

Pl. 536 a, b; Map 2477

Plants trees to 12 m tall, usually not suckering or colonial. Branches sparsely thorny. Twigs usually glabrous, but occasionally hairy, producing pseudoterminal winter buds (these usually in a cluster of 2 or 3 at the tip). Petioles 4–18 mm long, usually evenly hairy on all sides, usually with 1 or 2(–4) large, dark, club-shaped glands near the tip. Leaf blades 6–12 cm long, 3–7 cm wide, 2 times as long as wide or wider, obovate to oblong-ovate, less commonly elliptic, broadly elliptic, or ovate, broadly angled to more commonly rounded or shallowly cordate at the base, short-tapered or tapered to rarely angled to a sharply pointed tip, the margins coarsely and doubly toothed, the sharp teeth relatively straight, glandless, the upper surface glabrous to moderately short-hairy and appearing somewhat wrinkled, the undersurface densely short-hairy. Inflorescences produced before the leaves, umbellate clusters of 2–5 flowers per bud, the flower stalks 4–20 mm long, glabrous or sparsely hairy. Flowers with the hypanthium 2.0–4.5 mm long, conic, usually glabrous, rarely finely hairy. Sepals 1.5–4.0 mm long, reflexed at flowering, lanceolate to ovate, rounded or sometimes minutely notched or toothed at the tip, the margins hairy, entire or obscurely glandular, the inner surface moderately to densely hairy. Petals 6–12 mm long, elliptic to obovate, white, sometimes fading to pink. Fruits 15–30 mm long, ellipsoid to nearly globose, shallowly longitudinally grooved on 1 side, the surface purplish red to dark blue, glabrous, glaucous, the fleshy layer well-developed, the stone ovoid-ellipsoid, somewhat flattened, the surface usually smooth. 2n=16. April–May.

Scattered to common nearly throughout the state (South Dakota to Texas east to Indiana and Georgia; Mexico). Banks of streams and rivers, mesic upland forests, margins of ponds, bases and tops of bluffs, edges of glades, and edges of sand prairies; also pastures, old fields, fencerows, old mines, railroads, and roadsides.

Prunus mexicana is sometimes planted as an ornamental or as a wildlife food plant. Specimens attributed to this species sometimes are morphologically intermediate with P. americana and P. hortulana. For a discussion of putative hybridization in this complex see the treatments of those species.



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