South Dakota Native Plant Research
Prunus americana

Scientific Name

Prunus americana


Download Seed: The stone of the plum is 1.5-2 mm long. (59 KB)

Download Seedling: Seedling of wild plum planted in garden at Oak Lake Research Station near Brookings, SD. (95 KB)

Download Vegetative: Leaves are 6-10 cm long. (39 KB)

Download Flowering: Flowers emerge before the leaves. (211 KB)

Download Fruiting: The fruit is 2-2.7 cm across. (59 KB)

Family Name


Common Name

Wild plum

Native American Name

Lakota: kantahu can


Prunus americana is a(n) shrub or small tree deciduous, which grows 3 m to 8 m in height. This species is commonly found prairies and pastures, edges of woodlands and along roadsides and stream banks from Massachusetts to Manitoba, New Mexico, central Texas, and northwest Florida. Found locally all across South Dakota. The leaves are obovate to obovate-oblong or lanceolate-ovate. Prunus americana has white white flowers that bloom from April to May.

Additional Notes

*In the 1980's Native Americans on the Lake Traverse Reservation started to document "Ka te" in this format. The Lakota name means plum tree

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Gather plums in late August or early September
Germination: Fall sow or stratification
Vegetative Propagation: Division of roots or suckers
Soils: Coarse to medicum
Light: Full sun
Water: Moderate
Notes: Can store seeds at room temperature for two to five years. There are one to two years between large seed crops. To hasten and increase germination remove endocarp by hand (fleshy tissue). Cold period 37 to 47 degrees F in moist medium (sand + peat) for 90-150 days. Germinate day 50 degrees F (8 hours) and night 50 degrees F (16 hours). Sixty days yield sixty- percent germination.

Prunus americana