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Plums by the Beach

My favorite shrub of beach environments is the beach plum. I always look forward to its prolific blooms of five-petaled white flowers in the spring. Once pollinated by bees and other pollinators, it produces lots of fruit that are green at first, but by the end of the summer the fruit ripen into a deep-purple fruit.

Not only are beach plums a delicacy to wildlife, people also harvest it, often to make beach plum jellies and jams. Some people eat them off the shrub, but it is not a taste that everyone likes. I have heard many versions of its taste from a cross between strawberry and an apricot to cranberry-peach. Its skin is tart, but its flesh is sweet.

It grows along the coast from Maryland to Maine in interdunal swales behind the protection of the primary dunes. It thrives on the shores of Long Island and Martha’s Vineyard, but is endangered in Maine and Maryland.

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