By mid April, stands of wild plum are readily observed along the Colorado Front Range. Their clusters of white flowers, appearing before the leaves, adorn the barren limbs; favoring relatively moist soil and full sun exposure, this native shrub (or small tree) grows along streams and in sunny areas of foothill canyons. Spines often appear on the rigid stems and the leaves, which begin to unfold as the flowers fade, have a finely serrated edge.
The reddish plums appear by early summer and are consumed by a wide variety of birds and small mammals; mule and white-tailed deer also brows on their leaves and stems. Like other shrubs of the Colorado Piedmont and Front Range foothills, wild plum is drought and cold tolerant and is spread across the semiarid landscape in the droppings of wildlife that feed on its fruit.
Fortunately, developers and homeowners along the urban corridor have utilized wild plum in decorative plantings. By choosing native plants that are well adapted to the Front Range climate, we minimize the need for supplemental water and artificial fertilizers while supporting the welfare of native wildlife species.