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).