Alphabetical Plant Listing

Oemleria cerasiformis (Indian Plum)

Indian Plum, Oso Berry, Oregon Plum, Osmaronia cerasiformis, Nuttallia cerasiformis


A lovely harbinger of spring, Oemleria cerasiformis (Indian Plum) is a large, suckering, deciduous shrub or small tree noted for its early flowers, purple berries, and excellent fall color. From late winter to early spring, its long, slender, upright to arching branches are studded with almond-scented, greenish-white flowers which appear in loose hanging clusters of 10 to 20 flowers each. Blooming before or as the leaves unfurl, the blossoms provide a nectar source to hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. Indian Plum is dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants. The female flowers are followed by olive-sized berries which start out tan to pale orange, transition through pink to reddish purple, then ripen bluish black in early summer. They are attractive to birds and small mammals. Bears also eat the fruit as suggested by the common name of Oso Berry (Oso means bear in Spanish). Indian Plum fruit is edible for humans but is often bitter, even when fully ripe. Female plants will not produce berries unless there is a nearby male pollinator. The foliage of lance-shaped leaves, 5 in. long (12 cm), is dark green on top, gray-green, and slightly fuzzy beneath. It turns golden-yellow in late summer to early fall. The leaves are aromatic, emitting a fresh cucumber scent when crushed. Native to the Pacific coast and ranges of North America, from British Columbia, Canada to California, Indian Plum is found in moist and relatively dry forested areas, stream banks, slopes, hillsides, rocky canyons, coastal scrub, and along roads. Indian Plum is a nice addition to a shrub border or woodland garden. It is also popular for Pacific Northwest restoration projects due to its ease of propagation, rapid growth, and wide tolerances for various shade and moisture regimes.

  • Grows up to 8-20 ft. tall (240-600 cm) and 8-15 ft. wide (240-450 cm). This plant spreads slowly, mostly by root suckering.
  • This plant is best grown in full sun to part shade in fertile, moist, well-drained soils. In moist soil, plants may sucker extensively. Will tolerate somewhat dryish soils. Does not tolerate wet soils.
  • Perfect for mixed shrub borders, woodland gardens, naturalized areas, city gardens, and cottage gardens.
  • No serious pest and disease issues. May become chlorotic in shallow, chalky soil.
  • Prune immediately after flowering. Remove excess suckers to restrict growth. Established plants may be cut back to near the crown in winter for complete rejuvenation.
  • Propagate by seed as soon as ripe, take greenwood or softwood cuttings in early summer. Transplant suckers in early autumn. A lengthy cold-moist stratification will overcome seed dormancy.
  • Native to western North America.

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Requirements

Hardiness 6 – 10
Heat Zones 6 – 10
Climate Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Shrubs, Trees
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 8' – 20' (240cm – 6m)
Spread 8' – 15' (240cm – 4.5m)
Spacing 96" – 240" (240cm – 600cm)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy, Fruit & Berries
Native Plants United States, California, Pacific Northwest, Oregon, Washington
Attracts Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Uses Hedges and Screens
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

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John Rusk, CAJC: in the PNW, Niall Williams, Flickr, Randy Bjorklund, IanRedding, Peter Turner Photography, Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 6 – 10
Heat Zones 6 – 10
Climate Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Shrubs, Trees
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 8' – 20' (240cm – 6m)
Spread 8' – 15' (240cm – 4.5m)
Spacing 96" – 240" (240cm – 600cm)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy, Fruit & Berries
Native Plants United States, California, Pacific Northwest, Oregon, Washington
Attracts Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Uses Hedges and Screens
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

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