Beach plums

Beach plums have interested me for their ability to avoid spring frosts because of their delayed bloom times compare to other plums. I planted a few 3 years ago which I’d ordered from Oikos, and they will hopefully produce some fruit this season. They were some of the only plants to show some tip die-back from last year’s -25F, which was a bit dissapointing, but hope springs eternal…
A friend has a couple growing in a colder location than mine, and his come from a different source (Fedco) and haven’t showed any tenderness to cold. One of them has clearly better qualities of fruit and uniform ripening, I might take some cuttings during the summer as I have found they root reliably from semi lignified wood.
Anyone else growing these care to share their experiences?

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Jesse,
I grow them but have not been overly impressed. I started a row of 50 about 5 years ago and am in the process of removing them. In Kansas they just don’t produce the quantities if hoped. They are the size of a dime and have a remarkably excellent flavor. In the right location they could be excellent. Initially one of the universities did a beach plum study and got me excited with their results. It’s got to do with location in my opinion. Kansas will never have a chance of growing beach plums professionally for us they are strictly a novelty.

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I had a wild one growing next to my house and never got any good amounts so I have planted two more on each side of it to see if this improves pollination. They seem fickle where I see them growing wild on one street near the ocean, one year full the next year very few on the bushes. I live near a conservation area that is on the ocean with a marsh I’m sure there’s some wild ones growing and may go hunting this year when their flowering to see if I can find some in the wilds. People who make jellies from them are very secretive about the whereabouts of their prized wild bushes.

I’ve eaten wild ones and they taste like a bland version of a plum. The jam is as good as any plum jam though. I never saw a wild bush with a big load, but probably none of them were in full sun.

I’ve never heard of a beach plum as being described as bland. They pack a punch, not really great off the bush, but as a jelly some people rave about them. I’ve tasted some supposed beach plum jelly that was lhad very little real beach plum in it.

I have eaten wild beach plums many times and never found a single one that packed any punch at all. We used to go to Cape Cod every summer and wild beach plums are very common there. I expect all the descriptions you were reading were about the jam.

The skin has a really tart good flavor of the ones I got. I ordered them here I think http://www.nhnursery.com/seedlings/seedling-details.aspx?sid=122. Hartmans Nursery sent me some mini sweet plums as well https://hartmannsplantcompany.com/retail/product/mini-sweet-plum-tree/. I might be mixing them up. I got plum berries there as well.

Hello everyone, first post here.

I have tried beach plums once fresh off the tree/bush and found the flavor to be quite good. (very much like any plum of course, but with a greater ratio of tart skin to sweet flesh) Based on my impression of that one tasting I planted three beach plum bushes last year. They were 5 gallon sized pots when planted so I am hoping to see fruit from them fairly soon but I don’t know that that means this year.

Does anyone have any experience with how pest resistant they are? Do plum curculios go after them very badly?

I am in Northern VA, just outside DC and so am very close to their native range.

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Definitely their always tart to me. I worked with a guy that would go to his secret place about every three years which seems to be their cycle and he would come back with a 5 gallon bucket also he’d return with a good amount of poison ivy also.

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Welcome!

The caterpillars love them. Thinking could be winter moth caterpillars, but I’m not sure. I give mine a shot of spinosad or BT to rid them of them. I’ve also had aphid on them, but they seem to bounce back pretty well. This grows wild and fruits so it’s a pretty tough bush.

I’m getting the feeling from reading these messages there is plenty of taste variety. The ones I’ve tried were more bitter than tart with an odd flavor. Definitely not bland.
Although there was some bitterness I liked them but I’m sure not everyone would.

Thanks for your responses, interesting variety of taste descriptions. I have tried wild bp and remember the astringently full plum flavor. The plants I have are supposedly decended from improved selections, I imagine fruit size and color. Hope to update this thread with some fruit pics someday!
If I ever manage to get a real harvest, I would use them in preserves or wine.

That is a good description of them.

I guess its not surprising that the taste varies, the only surprising thing is I never recall any mention of it. Given how isolated the natural stands are it could be there is a nontrivial difference genetically.

Hey it looks like the variability is well-known. Here is an excerpt from Plums of New York:

Several botanical varieties of Prunus maritima have already been named and there are yet groups within the species which seem to be nearly as distinct as those described and possibly worth distinguishing. Since the variations show in the size, color and edible qualities of the fruit, as well as in the characters of the plant, it is to be expected that the species has a horticultural future though at present it has but one cultivated variety

The fruit varies in size from a half to three-quarters of an inch in diameter and is almost spherical, though sometimes oval and with or without a distinct suture. The usual color is a rich bluish-black with a waxy bloom, but red, yellow, amber and orange fruits are often found. In taste the Maritima plums range from inedible to nearly as rich a flavor as is found in the best of the Domestica plums

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I know where there is wild one that produces consistently. Now I’m thinking I may try to find some others to compare flavor. I’ll get some seed and scion.

Maybe instead of finishing ripping mine out I should graft over what’s left.

They are fairly easy to root from summer cuttings as well.
I wonder about grafting them, they are prone to suckering, so aftercare would be important.

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Probably just about as much information as most would want on beach plums…

Cornell beach plum write-up

A couple notes on the variability of the fruit:

"The beach plum is extremely variable, as the American Agriculturist observed in its November 1872 issue: “The fruit varies in different plants, not only in color and size, but in quality-some specimens being quite pleasant to the taste, and others harsh and acerb.” "

and

“The edible fruit, which ripens from late August through September (8, 4), ranges in size from a half an inch to an inch in diameter. The fruit color can be red, purple, deep blue, and, rarely, yellow. The plum has a tart acidic flesh.”

Hopefully the ones I have planted will prove to be tasty. I guess that is the fun/risk of planting a wild plant.

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More on beach plum: http://www.beachplum.cornell.edu/tamingthewildbeachplum.pdf