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The Wild Red Plum


Prunus Americanus, Marsh.

The wild red or yellow plum forms dense thickets in moist woods and along river banks from New York to Texas and Colorado. Its leafless, gnarled, and thorny twigs are covered in spring with dense clusters of white bloom, honey-sweet in fragrance, a carnival of pleasure and profit to bees and other insects. In hot weather this nectar often ferments and sours before the blossoms fall. The abundant dry pollen is scattered by the wind. The plum crop depends more upon wind than upon insects, for the pollination period is very brief.

After the frost in early autumn, the pioneers of the prairie used always to make a holiday in the woods and bring home by wagon-loads the spicy, acid plums which crowded the branches and fairly lit up the thicket with the orange and red color of their puckery, thick skins. In a

land where fruit orchards were newly planted, "plum butter" made from the fruit of nature's orchards was grate fully acceptable through the long winters. Even when home-grown sorghum molasses was the only available sweetening, the healthy appetites of prairie boys and girls accepted this " spread " on the bread and butter of noon day school lunches, as a matter of course.

insects and orchards