Beach Plum

Beach Plum

Prunus maritima

Kingdom: Plantae

Phylum: Angiosperm

Class: Dicot

Order: Rosales

Family: Rosaceae

Genus: Prunus

Species: maritima

Where in the OLL?

Beach plum has showy flowers that attract native pollinators and add beauty to the permaculture garden. It also has edible fruit, making it valuable for people and wildlife.


Plant growth form

  • Shrub.
  • Above ground woody.
  • The Beach plum gets about 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide when fully grown.
  • Simple leaf type with alternate arrangement

Flowers, fruits & pollinators

  • Single flower
  • White
  • Flowers from May until June
  • Beach plums have a perfect flower arrangement
  • Flowers are small and white with rounded petals. 
  • 5 sepals and petals, 1 pistil and approximately 13 stamens.

Ideal location, conditions & cultural needs

  • Full Sun. 
  • Prefers well drained soil. Beach plum is native to sandy dunes in coastal regions, but can adapt, and even grow better, when moved inland.
  • pH: 6-7
  • This species is well adapted to many different soil types and does not need any special nutrients, except for extra applications of fertilizer for increased fruit production, especially in sandier soils. Fertilizer should be applied according to current levels of soil nutrients,which can be obtained through a soil test.

Planning & maintenance

  • For orchard production, giving beach plums spacing of 12-16 feet is ideal. If a hedgerow is more desirable, spacing of 3-5 feet makes more sense. In the wild, these plants are found on sand dunes and act as barriers so the spacing is very close and can extend many miles.
  • Beach plums need to be pruned regularly, especially for fruit production. Mainly, beach plums are pruned to remove dead and diseased wood, not to control growth.

Cultivars & propagation

  • There are many beach plum cultivars with selected traits that focus around fruit production. According to the USDA  “‘Bassett’s American’ (NJ) is recognized as the first beach plum cultivar selected for its large fruit (Uva, 2003).”
  • The best way to cultivate a beach plum, for either conservation efforts or fruit production, is through planting one-year-old bare root seedlings.
  • Native plant nurseries (e.g. Nasami Farm) usually sell beach plums; the plants are also available at many other nurseries in the New England area.

Pests & pathogens


  • Plum Gouger, Plum Curculio, European red mite, Japanese Beetle, Red humped caterpillar, Spittlebug, Eriophyid mite, Ambrosia Beetle, Plum aphid, Eastern tent caterpillar, Fall webworm, Leaf pouch gall mite, European fruit lecanium, Oriental fruit moth, Apple leaf skeletonizer, Lacebug, Hemispherical scale, Thrips, Pear slug larvae, Leaf tier, Tarnished plant bug, Gypsy moth, Treehopper, Forest tent caterpillar, and Mealybug.
  • Pathogens (Mainly fungal): Brown rot, Black knot, Plum pocket, and Shot hole disease
  • Management strategies
    • Integrated Pest Management
    • Pruning to remove dead wood and increase air circulation
    • General maintenance / good cultural practices (e.g. raking up leaves which removes sources of pathogens)

Helpful Link: 

  • This website provides a very detailed pest management calendar and recommends what to do to manage these pests.

Landscape & ecosystem

For landscaping purposes Beach plums can be used for:

  • Flowering effect
  • Patio plants
  • Foundation plants (Basic level plant species)
  • Hedgerows
  • As a native plant, beach plums are an excellent addition to a garden if the desire is to encourage native pollinators. The fruit is also a food source for wildlife.

Human uses

  • The fruits can be eaten and used to make dyes
  • It’s best not to eat the pit of a beach plum.


Plant catalogued by Caleb Fritz
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