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Fruit on Flowering Plums Print E-mail

Question: Can I eat the fruit from a Prunus C. KRAUTER VESUVIUS TREE?  Lena - Las Vegas

Short Answer: To my knowledge it won't hurt you - but I do not think you would like it.  So I would not eat it and toss it out.

Long Discussion: Let me expand on the topic of fruit on purple leaf flowering plums.

For the most part, we (you buyers and us growers) do not like to have fruit that is not worth eating on an ornamental tree.  It becomes a nuisance but we tolerate it since we like the other attributes of the tree (stunning spring bloom, purple foliage spring through fall, etc.).

Krauter Vesuvius Flowering Plum is extremely popular and the number one seller of purple leaf plums for several reasons.  It has a great, showy spring bloom of light pink blossoms and holds a very good purplish-black foliage from spring through fall without reverting to bronze-green in the late summer months.  Where this tree became very popular was in the mild winter areas where there was not a lot of winter chill.  There the tree usually would not produce nuisance fruit.  In colder winter areas (like yours in Las Vegas) or in mild winter areas where an abnormal winter cold spell hit, then the tree will fruit just like many other trees.

Thundercloud Flowering Plum is also very popular because of its showy spring bloom of light pink blossoms and its purplish-black foliage from spring through fall.  This tree is considered more cold hardy that the Krauter Vesuvius and we recommend it in the colder areas.  It will fruit always - regardless of winter cold intensity.  Please note that there are two selections of this tree on the market under the same name.  The one we grow is more cold hardy and holds its purple-black foliage color all through the hot summer months.  In fact, it is very difficult to distinguish it from the Krauter Vesuvius unless you know how to look.  There is another one that is grown by others that turns a bronze-green during the hot summer months and thus less desirable.  It also is not as cold hardy.  I think it is a mistake to grow that selection of the tree.

Purple Pony® Flowering Plum is a special variety introduced by L.E. Cooke.  It is a smaller growing tree (naturally dwarf) reaching only 12-15 feet with strong purple foliage that also holds its strong color from spring through fall.  We have observed it since 1962 and we have never seen it set fruit nor heard of anyone experiencing fruit in climates from USDA Zones 5 through 10.  This has become a very popular tree for yards where smaller size is important and near sidewalks where you do not want nuisance fruit.  I feel its main weakness is it is not as showy in the spring with the pale pink blooms - a little stingy in my opinion.

So in Las Vegas, both Krauter Vesuvius and Thundercloud are equally great (nearly identical) choices and both will fruit.  Purple Pony will be smaller with lighter spring bloom and the season long purple foliage and no nuisance fruit.

Ron L.



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