Little Plum of the Big Apple

Flora and Fauna Fridays

A weekly entry about the life of our estuary and watershed.


Beach Plum

Prunus maritima

by Erik Baard

Both Henry Hudson and Giovanni da Verrazzano (his correct spelling, unlike the bridge) noted in their logbooks how our harbor’s shores were covered with the white flowers and cherry-sized fruits of this tough, scraggly bush. The native little plum of the Big Apple grows in a variety of soil conditions, and are especially helpful to sand dunes. Beach plums feed migrating birds and other animals, and the flowers support butterflies and other beneficial insects. People enjoy beach plums in pies, jams, and even trendy alcoholic beverages!


HarborLAB has planted many beach plum seeds in our region. It’s easy with such a hearty species: Dig by hand into the back (shore side) of a sand dune — just an inch or two to moist sand. Plant seeds with a bit of compost. They’ll sprout in 2018 if not this season, after experiencing winter. In time they will stabilize the dune and protect important wildlife areas. Always ask your local park authority where these native seeds, gathered in the metropolitan area, would do the most good.

Our seeds were provided by Briermere Farms through a HarborLAB field trip with Hour Children, an organization for kids who were born in prison or whose mothers are in the system. Our volunteers paddle the estuary with public partners (like you!), planting this important ecosystem contributor.