Purpleleaf Plum

Prunus cerasifera

Leaves: Deciduous. Leaves are elliptical or oval shape with a blunt pointed tip. 1½ -2½” long and ½ as wide. Leaf edges have fine, blunt serrations. Dark purple or violet-red to purple-green leaf color. Some leaves may brown in hot, dry conditions. No significant fall color.

Bark/Twigs: Bark is characteristically dark in color. Smooth and dark purple to silver gray when young. Roughens with age to very dark gray, almost black.

Flowers/Fruit: Light pink, 1” diameter flowers have five petals. One of the first trees to bloom in the early spring (March-April). Flowers usually bloom before leaves emerge, but sometimes the leaves emerge around the same time. Small, 1” edible dark purple plums are produced each year and mature mid-summer.

Mature size and shape: Small to medium. 15-30’h x 15-25'w. Rounded with open spreading branches. Fairly dense.

General information/special features: Plant in full sun for richest leaf color. Shade intolerant. Prefers well-drained soil. Performs well in a variety of moist soils. Adaptable to a variety of settings. Not particularly tolerant of pollution and are relatively short lived, about 20 years due to numerous serious insects and diseases.

Landscape use and Maintenance: Good ornamental tree. May be planted singly or in groups. Can be planted as a street tree, but fruits can be very messy over sidewalks. Fast growing rate. High maintenance. Transplant in spring. Prune after flowering.

USDA Hardiness Zone:  4-9

Family/Origin: Rosaceae – Rose. Native to western Asia and cultivated for centuries.

Campus use: Somewhat common. Can be found in President’s Circle or southwest of the Union (Bld 53).

Japanese Flowering Cherry

Prunus serrulata

Leaves: Deciduous. Leaves are 2-5” long, 1½ -2½” wide, with an elongated oval shape and a long pointed tip. Leaves have edges that are finely serrated and each serration ends in a long, thin point. Leaves emerge as a reddish-brown or bronze color before turning deep green during the summer. Fall color is bronze to red.

Bark/Twigs: Bark is shiny and smooth with a reddish-brown color with white horizontal dots called lenticels. Bark peels horizontally.

Flowers/Fruit: ½-2” pink flowers. Flowers vary from light pink almost white, to dark pink depending on the variety. They can have single or double flowers in small clusters in late spring (April-May) as leaves form. Tree is fruitless.

Mature size and shape: Small to medium. 20-25’h x 10’w. May reach 30-40’h if not a dwarf variety, but generally smaller. Spreading vase-shaped to rounded.

General information/special features: Plant in full sun to part shade. Moist, well-drained soil preferred. Often grafted on sweet cherry rootstock standard at 4-6'. Wood is used for smoke-dying ham and bacon. Often short lived due to several pests and diseases. Sakura, or cherry blossoms, are one of the enduring symbols of Japan. Annual cherry blossom festivals (hanami) are one of the important customs and are known worldwide.

Landscape use and Maintenance: Beautiful ornamental tree for streets, parks, or residences. Slow to medium growing rate. Average maintenance.  'Kwanzan' is a popular variety famous for its spring display in Washington D.C. with 2” dark pink, double flowers.

USDA Hardiness Zone:  5-8

Family/Origin: Rosaceae – Rose. Native to China, Japan, and Korea.

Campus use: Common. Can be found on the west side of Civil & Materials Engineering (Bld 56) or northeast of HPER North (Bld 92).


Prunus virginiana

Leaves: Deciduous. Leaves are 2-4" long and ⅔ as wide, oval in shape with a finely serrate leaf edge. Dark green to purple-red color, depending on the variety. ‘Canada Red’ will leaf out green in the spring and turn purple-red during early summer.

Bark/Twigs: On young stems bark is smooth and red-brown. On older stems, bark turns gray-black, remaining fairly smooth with obvious horizontal dots called lenticels.

Flowers/Fruit: Small, ⅓” fragrant flowers are white and appear in elongated bunches 3-6” long, 1” wide. Flowers in late April-May. Fruit a black, round, about 1/3" in diameter berry that is edible and sour.

Mature size and shape: Medium. 20-30’h x 15-20’w. Upright slightly pyramidal to oval shape. Sometimes grown with multi-stemmed trunk.

General information/special features: Plant in full sun. Shade tolerant. Likes fairly moist locations with rich soils, but will do well on poorer sites. Drought tolerant.

Landscape use and Maintenance: Attractive flowers and smaller size make it an attractive tree for urban yards.  Good substitute for the purple-leaf flowering plum. Good for wildlife habitat plantings and windbreaks. Fruit can be used in jams and jellies. Average growing rate. Average maintenance. Vigorous sucker-sprouting can be a problem.

USDA Hardiness Zone:  2-8

Family/Origin: Rosaceae – Rose. Native to most of the continental U.S., including Utah, and much of Canada.

Campus use: Common. Can be found northeast of LeRoy Cowles Building (Bld 13) or east of Pioneer Memorial Theater (Bld 66).