Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Chickasaw Plum - Prunus angustifolia   Marshall
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Rosaceae
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AuthorMarshall
DistributionThroughout the Piedmont and most of the Coastal Plain, but rare to absent in far eastern counties; also ranges into the lower mountains, mainly in southern counties bordering SC. Absent from the northern mountains (north of Buncombe County), and seemingly no records from some lower mountain counties in the far southwest (for unknown reasons).

This is a Southern species that ranges north only to NJ, PA, northern IL and NE, and west into CO, NM, and TX. It ranges south into central FL. Weakley (2018) states that “The original native distribution is unclear; much of its eastern distribution may be the result of early spread by native Americans.”
AbundanceA common species over most of the Piedmont and the western and central Coastal Plain. Rare to uncommon in the southern mountains, and also in the northwestern Piedmont; seemingly absent in most of the mountains and eastern Coastal Plain.
HabitatThis species occurs in dry to mesic, often sandy soils; it favors hedgerows, thickets (at times composed mainly of this species), and woodland borders. Typically it is a species of somewhat disturbed habitats, and is never found in the shade of forests.
See also Habitat Account for General Rosaceous Thickets
PhenologyFlowers before the leaves emerge, in March and April; fruits quite early, from May to early July.
IdentificationThis is a very familiar Prunus species to most biologists, especially east of the mountains. It is a deciduous thicket-forming shrub, to rarely a small tree, usually 10 feet or less tall. It can often be identified as being a dense thicket that may exclude other woody species. The leaves are narrowly elliptic and are smaller than other plums and cherries, many just barely 1-1.5 inches long. The numerous white flowers average only about 1/3-inch across, smaller than on other plums. The fruit is red to orange and is about 3/4-1 inch wide.
Taxonomic CommentsMost references list this species without varieties, but several have been mentioned by some references, including NatureServe, listing the variety in NC as the nominate one – P. angustifolia var. angustifolia. Neither RAB (1968) nor Weakley (2018) divide this species into varieties.

Other Common Name(s)Few others in wide usage, though rarely used are Cherokee Plum, Sandhill Plum, Florida Sand Plum, and Sand Plum.
State RankS5
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