Cape Cod's Nature Place

The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History

Beach Plums

The Museum and the Green Briar Nature Center & Jam Kitchen in Sandwich, are working on a unique approach to meet their common mission, “to inspire appreciation, understanding and stewardship of our natural environment and wildlife through discovery and learning.” The main walkway to the Museum is now populated with 32 beach plum plants. As time goes by, members and visitors will be able to watch the process of the low-growing fruiting shrub display snow white colored flowers in April and May and then the fruit ripen in late summer with colors usually ranging from a bluish-purple to red-yellow. Beach plums are self-sterile and require cross-pollination so it is hoped the new plants will benefit from the Museum’s adjacent pollinator garden next to the seasonal Butterfly House and the observation beehive. As the beach plum plants mature and bear fruit, the crop will be brought to the Jam Kitchen to produce jelly to sell in our shops. All proceeds from the sales will go to supporting educational programs at both locations.

Beach Plum Prunus maritima

Beach plum is a very hardy flowering and fruiting shrub that is native to Cape Cod. It is a rounded, dense shrub that gets to be about 6’ tall. A deciduous shrub with dark green leaves, it flowers with clusters of white flowers in May. This is followed by edible cherry-shaped fruits, typically bluish-purple in color which ripen in August and September. The fruit can be sweet to tart and is used to make Beach Plum Jam. It is a good salt tolerant plant that grows in sandy, rocky soil.

Benefits of planting Beach Plum:

• Very hardy species

• Grows in sandy soil, where other plants struggle

• Produces fruit that can be used for jam

• Does best in full sun (6+ hours)

• Great for naturalizing an area and costal restoration

• Flowers are beneficial food source for native bees

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