Can you eat wild plums?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat wild plums?” and discuss how to find plums trees?

Can you eat wild plums?

Yes, you can eat wild plums. You may eat wild plums raw as a snack, but they are normally cooked since they are sour and can be bitter. The flavor of fruits depends on the interaction of sugars, organic acids, phenolics, tannins and aroma volatiles. In general, the concentration of acids declines during ripening, but the total number of acids increases (4). To preserve plums in jams, jellies, sauces, or syrup is a common practice. 

About 75% of the world’s supply of dried prunes is produced in California and in the Pacific Northwest. Prunes are an important product of the dried fruits industry (1).

They may also be made into pies, tarts, and other desserts in the same way as wild crab apples or chokecherries. The tartness of these fruits may enhance a rich demi-glace made with wild game or a sweet and sour barbecue sauce. Wild plum juice is acidic, which is a desirable characteristic for the processing industry as acidity contributes to an enhanced flavor and promotes a high dilution factor in the formulation of juices leading to a greater yield while low acidity dismisses any acidification during processing (4).

It is possible to make wine and moonshine from the squeezed fruit’s juices and skins. Like other sour fruits, such as rhubarb, red currants, and tart cherries, wild plums should be treated the same way. Wild plum has been reported to have medicinal properties, displayed by its antimicrobial, antifungal, anticancer, antioxidant, pesticidal and hematological effects. These properties are complimented by chemical compounds of wild plum fruit, seed, leaves and roots, which are phenolics, dietary fibers, minerals, vitamin C (antioxidants), saponins, glycosides, flavonoids, carotenoids, tannins, alkaloids, quinones and terpenoids. Wild plum fruit is reported to be rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C, polyphenols, anthocyanins and carotenoids (4).

Foraging plums may reach a height of 10 meters on deciduous shrub-like trees. A rich maroon or ruby red color is achieved when the fruit reaches full ripeness, a diameter of around 2 to 3 centimeters in diameter. 

In fresh form, the tough skins are discarded because they are bitter and abrasive to chew. Slightly sweet, with strong acidity, the amber-to-burgundy flesh surrounds a solitary core stone.


In the summertime, wild plums may be found for sale. 

Facts of the Day

There are many other names for wild plums, but the scientific name for them is Prunus Americana, which may also be referred to as the Sandhill Plum, Osage Plum, River Plum, or Sand Cherry. 

When compared to most commercial types, they aren’t the most popular fresh eating plums, but they do supply food for wildlife and foragers. Wild plums were an important source of food and medicine for American Indian communities. There are many skin and digestive disorders that may be alleviated with the usage of the whole tree, from the roots down to the fruit (3).

Value of Food

Vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin B, fibers, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, boron and potassium are found in wild plums. Total phenolic contents of different plum cultivars have been reported between 282-922 mg/100 g of fruit. Prunus fruits also include amygdalin and prunasin, which are found in many other fruits. These compounds are found in the seeds and not the flesh (2). 

Cyanide, which is a naturally occurring chemical, may be dangerous in high levels when exposed to water, but when consumed in moderation it accelerates breathing, improves digestion, and provides a feeling of well-being. These glycosides are not hydrolyzed and remain confined in seeds until cells are not damaged. Consumption of improperly processed food containing plum or prunes can cause cyanide poisoning (2).

Ethnic/Cultural Background Information

To perform the “waunyampi” prayer ritual, the Teton Dakota Indians utilized young sapling twigs of the Wild plum. Wild plum branches were plucked and decorated and bundled into wands for the event (3).


In North America, wild plums may be found in grasslands, forests, and along riverbanks. As long as the soil is well-drained, they may thrive in full sun to light shade. In order to prevent erosion, they are often planted along embankments. Wild plums may be found throughout much of the United States and Canada. The range is from Massachusetts west to Manitoba and Montana, south to Utah, Colorado, and Oklahoma, east to Florida, and north to New York (3).

How can you tell whether a plum is a wild one?

In spite of everything I’ve just said, how can you determine whether the plum in question is edible? You’ll need to check that your tree has all the features that are unique to the ‘prunus’ family. Here’s a sample checklist:

  • Slightly downy undersides to the oval leaves with serrated edges. Ornamental trees often feature crimson or purple foliage instead of the customary green.
  • Make sure you’re looking at a tree and not a thorny weed.
  • The new growth and horizontal lenticels on the dark, smooth bark have a purple hue.

Wild plums may be harvested

To find wild plums, check for them in the hedgerow, in your local park, or even in your own neighborhood (as long as you have a safe distance away from busy roads). Fruit that has fallen to the ground will be the first clue. Look up from there! You’re in for a real treat.

American Wild Plum Tree 

Unlike the grafted rootstocks used by American Wild Plum Tree Nursery, which sells plants that have been purchased, the wild plum tree produces an abundance of excellent fruit without the need for grafting. Taking care of wild plum trees is a breeze since they grow in conditions of neglect. As a general rule, you may find wild plums in most cold or temperate regions. 

When the fruits are in season, birds tend to plant it. There are dense thickets of multi-stemmed trees that develop in abandoned and disturbed soil regions Eventually, a vast colony of suckers will grow on the trunks of trees. 

Trees may reach a height of 15 to 25 feet (4.5-7.6 m). When the leaves begin to emerge in March, the 5-petaled white blooms begin to bloom. In the autumn, the leaves of oblong, serrated leaves become vibrant scarlet and gold. Even though the fruits are little, they are jam-packed with taste, so they make excellent preserves.

To learn more about eating wild plums click here


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat wild plums?” and we discussed how to find plums trees?


  1. Birwal, Preeti, et al. Plums: a brief introduction. J Food, Nutr Popul Health, 2017, 1, 1-5. 
  2. Qaiser, Jabeen, and Aslam Naveed. The pharmacological activities of prunes: The dried plums. J Med Plant Res, 2011, 5, 1508-1511.  
  3. Americana Marsh, Prunus. WILD PLUM.
  4. Emongor, V. E., and G. Ramagonono. Storage temperature influences postharvest quality of wild plum (Ximmenia Americana L.) Fruit. Ghana J Sci, 2019, 60, 1-10.