Chickasaw Plum Inventory


I don’t know? I’m with you in an interest in other plums. I bought some beach plum seed, and Dunbar’s. The Dunbar’s looks interesting because it tends to grow as a single trunk tree.
I know they sell a lot of cherry plums in Canada. many cultivars, but none of them are sold here. I want to try seed because they come in a number of colors, red, blue, yellow and everything inbetween. You need two.
A photo from the web


I just realized that I haven’t posted in recent photos of my Toole’s Heirloom Chickasaw Plum here yet. For sure, I should get a lot of good photos of the plums this year because the tree is loaded, and so far the fruit has not been damaged by curculios. It’s still early because Toole’s Heirloom ripens pretty late, late June. Things can still happen, but the fruit is beautiful. If anything I really need to do some thinning.

Toole’s Heirloom is a Chickasaw type plum that my dad brought home to the house I grew up in when I was a child. I’m not sure of its origin but likely he got it from a family member or one of his customers. There used to be a local Chickasaw variety in the area that was passed around in the local African American community called the Bouie plum. I keep running into people who remember it, but no-one as seen one in a long time and no-one knows anyone who still has one. It’s possible the Toole’s Heirloom is a Bouie plum. It could be an Odom although it looks a little different from the Odoms posted above. Anyway, I should definitely get good pictures this year. Those of you who have Odom plums, it would be good to see a pick of the inside of the plum. While Toole’s Heirloom is mostly red with a little orange, the inside is a distinct greenish yellow. Toole’s Heirloom is very sweet, quite a bit sweeter but not as big as of fruit as Robusto.

The landscape photo features my three mature plum trees. All three trees are loaded with limb bending crops of plums. The big tree in the Middle is Mariana which is usually grown as a rootstock for European plums but makes a fabulous cherry plum with a small pit relative to the size of the fruit. It’s my best tasting plum and the earliest to ripen. It’s not a Chickasaw type but is a hybrid between the Munson plum P. monsonia and the Maribailan plum, P. carisefera. My tree is seven years old and is 25 ft tall and 30 foot across. It is by far the largest plum tree I have ever seen, and it’s not even that old. The reputation of Mariana is that it has delicious small fruit but is not very productive. That’s exactly how I would have described it until this year. Up until last year it was apparently pollinized by Green Gage which died in fall 2016. Last year Mariana bloomed profusely but did not set fruit telling me that it’s not self fertile or cross fertile with the Asian hybrid Robusto or the Chickasaw Toole’s Heirloom. Mariana does not bloom with Munson, the parent that can take a South Georgia climate. But it does bloom with the wild hog plum which is a very, very close relative according to taxonomists. I brought hog plum flowers into my yard, and this year Mariana is not just producing but is producing a bumper crop. Mariana ripens mid to late May. Here’s a close up photo:

The Robusto plum which looks like a big bush under Mariana to the left, is dwarfed and somewhat shaded by it’s much larger neighbor. Oddly, the side of Robusto that is overshadowed by Mariana is the side that produces the most and largest plums. You can look at Robusto and taste the plums and tell that it’s more Chickasaw than anything else. The plums are large, but when eaten fresh the pallet says “Chickasaw”. My early sense from watching how one year old grafts of Robusto are acting on Toole’s Heirloom rootstock is that Robusto is a smaller more wild Chickasaw looking tree than Toole’s Heirloom or even Guthrie and Odom for that matter. Here is a close up photo:

So far my impression is that Toole’s Heirloom and Robusto are both better pollinized by wild Chickasaw plums than by each other. God bless.


Great update. Always good to get longitudinal varietal info. So many nurseries sell unproven stock that they have never grown out. This sort of info is invaluable,


Great info Marcus, thanks for the pictures and explanations. Cool story about the Bouie Plum. Looking forward to more updates on this Chickasaw Plum thread.


In the Plum section there is a story about the Powers Plum from Sam Powers. One I’ve been looking for.


Well, Toole’s Heirloom is beginning to ripen plums insanely early for that variety. It is over a month early but all the plum trees bloomed very, very early this year because of the warm February. Maybe these are outliers, but enough of them are beginning to turn that it might well be that the whole herd is about to ripen. If so, I should have thinned because the fruit is a bit small. The flavor is very good. The flesh is very sweet. The skin is tart with just a bit of bitterness but not objectionable, at least not to me. For a Chickasaw plum, it’s exceptional. The Mariana plum which also has a very large crop this year looks like its about 2 weeks from ripening fruit. It and Robusto are usually finished before Toole’s Heirloom ripens fruit so things are out of sequence for what’s normal here. I hope that most of them wait and ripen at the right time, not just so they get a bit bigger but so that my chilly peppers have time to ripen. This is the plum that I was hoping to use for making some spicy plum sauces and jams from. God bless.i


I worked late today, so it was almost dark when I got home, but four more plums were ripe when I got home. So here’s a photo of one on the tree. The light quality is not the greatest.


Today I learned a new twist to the likely relationship between Toole’s Heirloom and the Bouie Plum. The ReStore manager at the Habitat for Humanity affiliate that I work for is a distant relative of Rustle Moore, the man who was telling me about the Bouie plum. I asked her if she had ever seen one, and she said yes, many times. They used to be common, but there were slightly different types of them because people, especially among African Americans were passing around seeds as well as root suckers. She said that back in the day every black family had these big (Chickasaw type) plum trees because no-one had money to buy store bought fruit. People figured out that with wild plums the bigger the growth habit of the tree, the bigger the plums. So they were constantly planting the seeds from the biggest plums from the biggest trees. The Bouie family did this and they had several good trees. Their trees were so big that people started calling them “shade tree plums”. She said that she remembered from when she was a little girl that these shade tree plums were so popular and common they started coming up in the woods near farm houses. Then all of a sudden people got used to buying all their fruit at the store, and people stopped growing the shade tree plums.

I was showing her Toole’s Heirloom Plum, and she said that she was nearly 100% sure that its a descendant from the Bouie shade tree plum strain. She said the sheer size of my tree that’s only seven years old and the two toned nature of the fruit and shape of the leaves and color of the bark make her think that it’s one of the plums that family developed. She went own to say that the other reason she thinks Toole’s Heirloom is a direct descendent of the Bouie plum if not the original is because John L. Moore (Russle Moore’s father) and my dad were friends and that they traded fish, game, garden produce and the like with each other all the time. (That part I knew.) She said that John L.'s wife was originally a Bouie, and that John L. had gotten into raising Bouie plums and crossing the biggest ones to make bigger plums. Arliesha said that there was no doubt in her mind that Mr. Mark (my dad) got his plum trees from John L. Moore but since John L. raised plums from seeds, my dad’s plums were probably genetically distinct.

What I know is that my dad had two trees. One tree was a lot bigger than the other, and the fruit was bigger too. Arliesha said that Mr. John L would have hooked my dad up right and given him two distinct strains of shade tree plums for cross pollination had they been root suckers, but most likely they were seedlings. So bottom line is that we will never know if this tree is the original Bouie variety since both John L. and my dad are dead. It does not sound like there was one variety of clones called Bouie plums but a whole of closely related trees spread all over the county. We can say with reasonable certainty that Toole’s Heirloom arose from the Bouie Plum line and is representative of the shade tree plum. The other important thing I learned from Arliesha is that the older generation of local African Americans will better know what I’m talking when asking about good plum strains if I use the terminology of “shade tree plums” rather than Chickasaw type improved plums. That will be important going forward in trying to identify, locate and salvage more of these local strains before they are lost completely. The other important thing I learned is that these African American families were not just keeping specific good trees going through cloning. They were actively planting seeds from good trees being pollinized by good trees in an effort to make better trees and that they had been actively improving the Chickasaw plum for generations.

So here’s the question. What’s most ethical to do? Keep the Toole’s Heirloom name or go with the Bouie name? I’m going back and forth on this issue. Someone else might have a “Bouie plum” out there that’s a bit different from this one. (I hope they do.) So using the old name could mean multiple very similar plums with the exact same name. Still, if this is the last of the Bouie line, it would be a shame for this variety to become completely disconnected from the family and community that played the biggest role in developing it. At present I lean towards keeping this one distinct by keeping the “Toole’s Heirloom” name but work with the Georgia Southern Botanical Garden and a local African American history museum called “The Willow Hill Museum” to make sure that this plum’s history with the Bouie family is documented and preserved.

I’m planning to invite Rustle Moor and any other Bouie family descendants who want to come along over to my house to look at the tree to see if they can identify it more specifically. I also hope to get pictures of them with the tree and some more family history in connection to the Bouie plum strain with perhaps specific names of individuals who worked on improving the plum. My goal is for the Georgia Southern Botanical Garden and Willow Hill Museum to work together to create an exhibit that documents this part of Bulloch County history.


Great work Marcus. Thanks for the update. Good looking plums.


I’d like to get some seed to see how they would grow out here in western Oklahoma.


I’m putting seed in the fridge to stratify from Toole’s Heirloom and Robusto as fruit ripens. God bless.



Here is a video I took today of Toole’s Heirloom Chickasaw Plum. The plums have gotten much, much bigger since I took a few photos of ripe ones at the beginning of the month. Many of them are well over 1 1/2 inches in diameter. The bitterness is mostly gone in the ripe ones. They are much sweeter and more flavorful than those early plums as well. I liken the flavor somewhat to Hawaiian punch.

Note I’m still looking for good Chickasaw plums to add to the Georgia Southern Collection.


Here’s a photo of how Toole’s Hierloom looked a couple of days ago.


Why are Euro plum’s Prunus Domestica sub divided into Gage, Damson, Marable etc.

Why can’s Bouie be a district subspecies of Chickasaw denoted large fast growing tree typically displaying two tone fruit.

I suggest you coin it and make a Wikipedia page for it.


Guthrie, McKibben, Odom and probably Excelsior are also large fruited and large treed Chickasaw plums. (I dont know Excelsior makes a large fruit, but I have never heard of an description of the tree. The Excelsior Chickasaw was found near Excelsior Georgia by a nursery owner from St. Marie’s Georgia in 1919. It’s a yellow Chickasaw type plum that was big enough and was high enough quality that it was grown commercially in South Georgia and North Florida until refrigeration made Asian type plums available. This large tree growth variant It is definitely something that has arisen in multiple places. No-one is clear on it’s real origin. But we know native people cultivated Chickasaws and introduced to the Eastern US, so it’s possible that we are receiving the fruit of their breeding efforts. Just today I found out about a whole population of these large plums in the Albany Georgia area. Hopefully I will get suckers from these trees in the fall. The best blanket turn I have found for these plums is “improved Chickasaw types”. But the tern that many older African Americans in the Bulloch County area have for them is pretty catchy. They call them “Shade Tree Plums” on account of the large size of the trees. The term is generic enough and memorable enough that it could potentially be applied to the whole group.


Nice :+1:t2:


Just curious. Did your Odom and Guthrie flowers survive the late frosts? Are you going to get a crop this year. I would love to see pick of them this year as well as your opinion on how this year’s crop compares to last years. Mariana and Toole’s Heirloom not only have bigger crops this year than before, but the plums are better both in terms of size and flavor. God bless.



Yes they did. Neither has ripened yet but the Guthrie is getting close. Plum Curculio has hit the Guthrie pretty hard this year, and the Odom less so. I didn’t spray anything at all for it, so no real surprise. I should still get a good crop if the birds/squirrels/possums aren’t ravenous.


I’m guessing that our ripening times will be similar. I have about ten Guthrie and two Odom hanging on and they look good. Looking forward to taste testing these.


I’m looking forward to picks. By the way the grafts are doing well. Once again thank you. Seeing the trees side by side, I now know that Toole’s Heirloom is definitely different from both. This year’s stems on Odom are very red as is typical on wild Chickasaw. The young twigs are also redish but less so. Toole’s Heirloom twigs never have any red in them at all that I can see. By the way McKibben and another un named good one that someone has given me also has red tender stems. Green stems seems to be one point on which Toole’s Heirloom is distinct from the others in terms of what you could see in an immature plant. God bless.