Prunus nigra (Canada Plum)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Rosaceae (Rose)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Habitat:part shade, sun; open woods, forest edges and openings
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:10 to 16 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: flat

[photo of flowers]  Numerous rounded clusters from buds at the tips of branches, each cluster a 1 to 4-flowered umbel (stalks all arising from the same point) and emerging before the leaves in spring. Flowers are 1 to 1¼ inch across with 5 white to pale pink, round to egg-shaped petals with a single slender style and a spray of slender, white to pink, yellow-tipped stamens in the center.

[photo of sepals] The 5 sepals are typically red, lance-oblong, about 1/3 the length of the petals, spreading, the tip blunt with glands or glandular teeth along the edges. The inner surface is smooth and the outer smooth or occasionally hairy. Flower stalks are slender and hairless.

Leaves and bark: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are simple and alternate, 2½ to 4¼ inches long and 1½ to 2¾ inches wide, the blade broadly oval-elliptic to lance-oblong, often widest above the middle, abruptly tapered to a point, tapered or rounded towards the base, on a 1/3 to 2/3 inch, hairy stalk with a few small glands near the leaf blade. Edges are finely double toothed with blunt teeth and a small gland at the tip of each tooth. Upper surface is dark green, sparsely hairy, the lower surface is lighter and sparsely to densely hairy, especially along the veins.

[photo of twig] Twigs are reddish brown to gray, smooth or occasionally sparsely hairy. Branches are spreading to ascending with older lateral twigs developing into stout spines that are up to 2 inches long and occasionally compound.

[photo of bark] The trunk can be up to 2¾ inch diameter at breast height, the bark is initially gray and smooth becoming coarse and peeling with age.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a purplish red drupe with a thin waxy bloom, about 1 inch in diameter and a single hard seed inside.


Canada Plum is similar to American Plum (Prunus americana), though it is more of a forest species and their ranges over lap where the forest meets the prairie. In comparison, Canada Plum has proportionately broader leaves with blunt, gland-tipped teeth and glands on the leaf stalk, where American Plum has sharply toothed leaves and only a few glands on the blade edge near the stalk. Canada Plum is also more open with ascending branches and while it does sucker, forming colonies, they are not typically as dense as American Plum.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Shop for native seeds and plants at!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers

More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka, Carlton, Lake and Pine counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Rich M - Ely
on: 2017-09-03 16:16:17

Yes, I've seen this plant in the Ely area. Do you know of nurseries that sell red plum (Prunus nigra)?

Posted by: Manitoba
on: 2019-05-25 22:33:30

North of MN, in southern MB, we have Prunus americana Marsh, Any one heard of it? But the fruit pointy not round, seed is flat and similar like European plum seed.

Posted by: Roy - Itasca County
on: 2019-09-05 09:20:43

About 20 specimens are growing just down the road from the family cabin in central Itasca County. Was able to identify them positively by consulting this website; thanks so much!

Posted by: Deb Burns - Hubbard County
on: 2021-08-08 12:57:16

We have one on our property near Nevis MN, in Hubbard County.

Posted by: Tim Cochrane - outside of Grand Marais, 1/2 mile inland from Superior
on: 2022-01-07 12:55:06

Looking to purchase a few prunus nigra starts for an opening below the house. I can't find a "nearby" nursery that is selling Canadian plum. Do you have any suggestions of a nursery that might have them for sale?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2022-01-07 14:32:52

Tim, we do not track who sells what but Boreal Natives near Duluth specializes in plants native to northern Minnesota. Otherwise check with other native plant vendors. If none of them carry it, one may know who does.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.