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What Is a Mexican Plum?

Christina Edwards
Christina Edwards

Known scientifically as Prunus mexicana, the Mexican plum is a tree native to the United States and Mexico. This small- to medium-sized tree can be found growing wild in sparse forests and fields in these areas. Although the fruit is edible, it is rather small, compared to other types of plums. It can also make an attractive addition to gardens and yards.

Mexican plums trees can be found in some northern parts of Mexico. They can also be found throughout the Midwestern and Southeastern parts of the United States. They range from Ohio to South Dakota, down to southern Texas and Alabama.

Some Mexican plum trees can grow to be around 35 feet (10.7 meters) tall. Many of them, however, are around 20 to 25 feet (6.1 to 7.6 meters) tall. Their spreads can grow to be about 20 feet (6.1 meters) wide.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

Leaves on the Mexican plum tree are dark green and roughly 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) long. The edges of these leaves are serrated, and they have sharply pointed tips. In the spring, white fragrant flowers adorn the tree. These flowers are approximately 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) wide.

The fruit of the Mexican plum is somewhat small. Like the American plum, it is usually round and about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) across. It is typically green before it ripens, but turns a deep purple-red color when ripe in late summer.

The taste of this fruit can vary. Many times, however, it is quite sweet. Although these plums can be eaten fresh, many people use them to make wine or jelly instead.

These trees can often be found growing wild along the edges of forests and in open fields. They seem to prefer oak forests, valleys, and prairies. They are easy to grow, so Mexican plum trees are also grown as ornamental trees in gardens and parks.

Mexican plums will usually tolerate a variety of soil types. They seem to prefer well-drained, somewhat dry soil, though. These trees can also tolerate very dry, drought-like conditions.

Buying young trees from nurseries is usually recommended when growing Mexican plum trees, but they can also be grown from seed. Like many other plants, these trees need a dormant period to germinate. In areas with cold winters, this can be accomplished by planting the seed in the fall. The seeds can also be placed in a refrigerator for a few months to imitate winter conditions. They can then be planted the following spring.

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