Plum trees (Prunus sp.), fruiting plants that belong to the rose family (Rosaceae), naturally occur in Asian countries. Most plum trees thrive in loamy, well-drained soils that receive partial to full sun. Some plum tree varieties perform well in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 5 to 8.
The cherry plum tree (Prunus cerasifera) reaches between 15 and 20 feet in height with similar spreads. This plum tree variety features ornamental leaves that emerge dark red but mature to deep purple shades. Fragrant, pink blossoms appear in April, followed by edible, purple plums. Potential problems include vericillium wilt, fireblight and spider mite infestations. Gardeners often cluster cherry plum trees in gardens or lawns.
The Mexican plum tree (Prunus mexicana), also called the bigtree plum, naturally occurs in the woods and prairies of Texas, Kansas and Missouri. This plum tree variety grows 15 to 35 feet high. Fragrant, white blossoms appear from February through April, giving way to purple plums that mature in late summer and early fall. Mexican plums make tasty jellies and preserves.
The Chickasaw plum (Prunus angustifolia), sometimes called the sandhill plum, features black bark, red branches and green leaves that turn light yellow in the autumn. Fragrant, white flowers bloom from February through May, and edible red plums ripen late in the summer. Chickasaw plum trees grow well in meadows, prairies, pastures and plains.
Canadian plum trees (Prunus nigra) quickly reach between 20 and 30 feet high. This plum tree variety features dark, smooth bark and green leaves that turn shades of purple and red in the autumn. White flower clusters bloom in April and May, followed by edible yellow, orange or red fruit. Canadian plum trees naturally occur in the moist thickets and woods of New England.
The American plum (Prunus americana), sometimes called the wild plum, matures to about 35 feet high. This tree features black bark and green leaves that turn vibrant reds and yellows in the autumn. Fragrant, white flower clusters bloom in April and May. Edible, red plums ripen in August and September. The fruit works well in pies, jams and preserves. The American plum naturally grows in pastures and woodland margins of the Midwest. Gardeners sometimes use this plum tree to help control soil erosion.
The hog plum tree (Prunus umbellate), sometimes called the flatwoods plum tree, features small, white flowers that appear in March and April. These blossoms give way to edible plums often used in jams and jellies. The hog plum grows naturally in the pastures, meadows and prairies of the South. This plum variety prefers drier soils. Gardeners often use the hog plum tree as an accent tree in lawns or wildflower gardens.