Facts about Beach Plum

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Beach Plum Quick Facts
Name: Beach Plum
Scientific Name: Prunus maritima
Origin Mid-Atlantic coastal region occurring as far north as the Canadian Maritime Provinces and south to northern Virginia
Colors Ranges in color from a red to bluish purple to dark purple.
Shapes Small spherical cherry shaped edible fruit which measures 0.5-1 in (1.5-2.5 cm) in diameter
Taste Varies greatly from naturally sweet to tart or bitter
Health benefits Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's diseases, common cold, flu, heart diseases, diabetes and obesity
Prunus maritima commonly known as beach plum is a deciduous shrub belonging to the Rosaceae (rose family) which includes about 2000 species of trees, shrubs, and herbs worldwide. The plant is native to Mid-Atlantic coastal region occurring as far north as the Canadian Maritime Provinces and south to northern Virginia. Although sometimes listed as extending to New Brunswick, the species is not known from collections there, and does not appear in the most authoritative works on the flora of that Canadian province. Few of the popular common names of the plant are Beach plum, seaside plum, sand plum, Graves’ plum, Shore plum, Graves’ beach plum and American plum.

The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. Improved cultivars are grown commercially as a fruit crop, and the plant is also grown as an ornamental. With its suckering habit, the plant can be grown in soil stabilization projects. Its plums are edible, but are quite tart and acidic, so they are generally used for jams and jellies. This species is used for coastal stabilization, to slow the erosion of sand dunes; in natural settings, it is an important food source for coastal wildlife. Although native to coastal areas, it can grow inland, and is sometimes cultivated for its fruit; several horticultural varieties have been developed.

Beach Plum Facts

Name Beach Plum
Scientific Name Prunus maritima
Native Mid-Atlantic coastal region occurring as far north as the Canadian Maritime Provinces and south to northern Virginia
Common Names Beach plum, seaside plum, sand plum, Graves’ plum, Shore plum, Graves’ beach plum, American plum
Name in Other Languages Afrikaans: Strand pruim
Albanian: Kumbull plazhi
Amharic: Yebahiri daricha pilemi (የባህር ዳርቻ ፕለም)
Arabic: Albarquq alshshati (البرقوق الشاطئ), khukh bahriun (خوخ بحري)
Armenian: Loghap’ salor (լողափ սալոր)
Azerbaijani: Cimərlik gavalı
Bengali: Saikata bara I (সৈকত বরই)
Bulgarian: Plazhna sliva (плажна слива), morska sliva (морска слива)
Burmese: Kamhkyay jee see (ကမ်းခြေဇီးသီး)
Chinese: Hǎitān méi (海滩梅), Hǎibīn lǐ (海濱李)
Croatian: Plava šljiva
Czech: Plážová švestka, Švestkovišeň pomořská
Danish: Strand blomme
Dutch: Strand pruim
English: Beach plum, Shore plum, Graves’ beach plum, Graves’ plum, American plum
Esperanto: Strando pruno
Estonian: Ranna ploom
Filipino: Beach plum
Finnish: Ranta luumu
French: Prune de plage, Prunier des grèves        
Georgian: P’lazhis kliavi (პლაჟის ქლიავი)
German: Strandpflaume
Greek: Damáskino stin paralía (δαμάσκηνο στην παραλία)
Gujarati: Bīca plama (બીચ પ્લમ)               
Hausa: Bakin ruwa plum
Hebrew: שזיף חוף
Hindi: Samudr tat ka ber (समुद्र तट का बेर)
Hungarian: Strand szilva
Icelandic: Fjara plóma
Indonesian: Plum pantai
Irish: Pluma trá
Italian: Prugna da spiaggia
Japanese: Bīchipuramu (ビーチプラム)
Javanese: Plum pantai
Kannada: Bīc plam (ಬೀಚ್ ಪ್ಲಮ್)
Kazakh: Jağajay qara örik (жағажай қара өрік)
Korean: Haebyeon maehwa (해변 매화)
Kurdish: Cira bilûrê
Lao: Plum hadsai (Plum ຫາດຊາຍ)
Latin: Prunus litore
Latvian: Pludmales plūme
Lithuanian: Paplūdimio slyva
Macedonian: Sliva na plazha (слива на плажа)
Malagasy: Morona amoron-dranomasina
Malay: Plum pantai
Malayalam: Bīcc plaṁ (ബീച്ച് പ്ലം)
Maltese: Għanbaqar bajja
Marathi: Beech plam (बीच प्लम)
Mongolian: Naran sharlagyn chavga       
Nepali: Samudr tat plam (समुद्र तट प्लम)
Norwegian: Strandplomme
Oriya: ବେଳାଭୂମି
Pashto: د ساحل بیرل
Persian: آلو ساحل, پرونوس دریایی
Polish: Sliwka plażowa  
Portuguese: Ameixa de praia    
Punjabi: Bīca palama (ਬੀਚ ਪਲੱਮ)
Romanian: Prune de plajă
Russian: Plyazhnaya sliva (пляжная слива), Sliva morskaya (Слива морская)
Serbian: Plava šljiva (плава шљива)
Sindhi: سمنڊ جو
Sinhala: Bīc ugat pantiya (බීච් උගත් පන්තිය)
Slovenian: Plažna sliva
Spanish: Ciruela de playa
Sudanese: Pantai pantai
Swedish: Strand plommon
Tajik: Olu sohil (олу соҳил)
Tamil: Kaṭaṟkarai piḷam (கடற்கரை பிளம்)
Telugu: Bīc plaṁ (బీచ్ ప్లం)
Thai: Phlạm chāyh̄ād (พลัมชายหาด)
Turkish: Plaj erik              
Ukrainian: Plyazhna sliva (пляжна слива)
Urdu: بیچ بیر
Uzbek: Plyaj olxo’ri
Vietnamese: Mận bãi biển
Welsh: Eirin traeth
Zulu: Ibhishi iplamu
Plant Growth Habit Low growing, densely branching, multi-stemmed flowering shrub
Growing Climates Light gravelly or sandy soils near the coast, sand dunes, beaches, sandy fields, roadsides, coastal barrens, tidewater stream sides
Soil Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, doing well on limestone. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present
Plant Size 1–2 m (40–80 inches) high, although it can grow larger, up to 4 m (160 inches or over 13 feet) tall, when cultivated in gardens
Bark Immature beach plum bark is reddish brown and smooth with bands of lenticels arranged horizontally. As the shrub ages, the bark darkens and becomes rough. Newer growth and young twigs are also reddish brown and pubescent
Leaf Leaves are alternate, elliptical, 3–7 cm (1.2–2.8 inches) long and 2–4 cm (0.8–1.6 inches) broad, with a sharply toothed margin. They are green on top and pale below, becoming showy red or orange in the autumn
Flowering season Mid-May and June
Flower Showy five petaled flowers measure 1–1.5 cm (0.4–0.6 inches) in diameter with long filaments and yellow anthers. Stalks and sepals of the flowers are hairy
Fruit Shape & Size Small spherical cherry shaped edible fruit which measures 0.5-1 in (1.5-2.5 cm) in diameter
Fruit Color Ranges in color from a red to bluish purple to dark purple
Fruit Skin Tough and tannic to thin and inconspicuous
Seed Single egg shaped, stone type seed
Taste Varies greatly from naturally sweet to tart or bitter
Propagation By seed
Season August and early September

Plant Description

Beach Plum is a low growing, densely branching, multi-stemmed flowering shrub that normally grows about 1–2 m (40–80 inches) high, although it can grow larger, up to 4 m (160 inches or over 13 feet) tall, when cultivated in gardens. The plant is found growing in light gravelly or sandy soils near the coast, sand dunes, beaches, sandy fields, roadsides, coastal barrens, tidewater stream sides. The plant thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, doing well on limestone. It also prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present. Bark of immature beach plum is reddish brown and smooth with bands of lenticels arranged horizontally. As the shrub ages, the bark darkens and becomes rough. Newer growth and young twigs are also reddish brown and pubescent

Leaves

An interesting feature of the plant is that leaves appear after the flowers. Leaves are 3–7 cm (1.2–2.8 inches) long and 2–4 cm (0.8–1.6 inches) broad, with a sharply toothed margin. Alternately arranged, elliptical, finely toothed, egg-shaped leaves are green on top and pale below, becoming showy red or orange in the autumn with acute tips. Glands are positioned near the base of the leaf.

Flowers

White flowers bloom singly, but mostly in small umbel-like clusters of two to three along the stems in April or May prior to leaf-out and persist as late as June. Showy five petaled flowers measure 1–1.5 cm (0.4–0.6 inches) in diameter with long filaments and yellow anthers. Stalks and sepals of the flowers are hairy. The immaculate white of the flowers develops a pinkish hue upon successful pollination usually achieved through the service of wild bees, but other pollinating insects may perform the task as well. A distinctive feature of the flowers is their long stamens, which end with sizeable yellow anthers.

Fruit

Fertile flowers are followed by small spherical cherry shaped edible fruit which measures 0.5-1 in (1.5-2.5 cm) in diameter and ripens from August through September. The glaucous fruit produced usually ranges in color from a red to bluish purple to dark purple. Although less common it may also be brick red or on rare occasions yellow. Fruit skin displays a great degree of variability; the skin may range from tough and tannic to thin and inconspicuous. The flavor of the fruit also varies greatly ranging from naturally sweet to tart or bitter. The fruits are drupes, containing a single egg shaped, and stone type seed. They can be turned into wines, jams, jellies or cordials.

Traditional uses and benefits of Beach Plum

  • In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound encourages respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.
  • Extracts from the beach plum are known to combat obesity and various related problems.
  • It has been known for a long time that eating any type of stone fruit provides the body with a number of bioactive compounds that can regulate the metabolism.
  • Several phenolic compounds and flavonoids found in the fruit have an anti-inflammatory action and fight obesity by acting at a cellular level.
  • In addition, many of the issues caused by obesity are decreased, like heart diseases, diabetes or very high levels of cholesterol in the blood.
  • Besides being a strong antioxidant, vitamin C also boost the body’s immune reaction and counter common cold, flu and make the organism more resilient against a wide range of infections.
  • Flavonoids in the juice were found to have an effect on the cognitive problems caused by aging.
  • They combat the inflammation of the neural areas, which preserves the memory and logical thoughts.
  • Eating beach plums continually protects from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and can improve the condition of people who already suffer from such neurodegenerative issues.

Culinary Uses

  • Fruit can be consumed raw or cooked.
  • Fruit can be eaten out of hand, used in pies, preserves etc. or be dried for later use.
  • Seed can also be consumed raw or cooked.
  • Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter.
  • The species is grown commercially to make jam.

Beach Plum Jam

Ingredients

  • 4 cups whole beach plums
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup medium-bodied red wine, such as Merlot

Directions

  1. Put a porcelain or ceramic plate in the freezer to chill. Meanwhile, combine all ingredients in a 5- to 6-quart heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Bring to a simmer so that the plums release their juices. Let cook 5 more minutes. Then pour mixture into a strainer set over a bowl, and press on the solids to extract the juice and fruit.
  3. Return extract to heat and simmer, stirring often, 25 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat as needed to keep from boiling up. Remove the chilled plate from the freezer and spoon a small amount of jam onto it.
  5. It should thicken when it hits the cold.
  6. If it’s thick enough, stop there. If not, return the plate to the freezer and continue cooking the puree, checking it at 5-minute intervals, until it reaches the desired thickness (it should form a skin when chilled).
  7. Pour into hot, sterilized jars to within 1/4 inch of the top, adjust lids, and process in boiling water 5 minutes. Let cool at room temperature and check seals.

Beach Plum Cordial

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of cleaned, unpitted beach plums
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 750 ml of good cognac (don’t overspend on this); stopper and save the bottle but do not clean the inside.

Directions

  • In a glass container with a tight non-metal lid, dissolve the sugar in the cognac and add the fruit.
  • Stir and set aside in a cool place.
  • Stir daily until sugar disappears.

Beach Plum Chutney

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted beach plums cut up or a cup of plum pulp
  • 4-5 medium peaches or pears or apples (or a mixture), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium orange, peeled and cut up
  • 1/2 cup of a mixture of dried fruits (raisins, currants, etc.)
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 small clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar (or mixture dark brown and white sugar)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of salt to taste

Directions

  1. Have sterilized jars ready. They can be left in the hot water until needed.
  2. Heat olive oil in heavy non-reactive sauce pan, add shallots and garlic and cook over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add sugar and
  3. Vinegar and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil while stirring.
  5. Continue to stir, reduce heat and cook until thickened.
  6. Pour or spoon the hot mixture into the jars leaving at least 1/4 inch of headspace. Close the jars tightly, let them cool and then refrigerate.

Beach Plum Sorbet

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups of pitted beach plums
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1-2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Beach Plum Cordial (optional)
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Combine the sugar and water over heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add the salt, lemon juice, cordial and plums and heat, with stirring, until it bubbles.
  3. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the mixture thickens and the plums have broken down.
  4. CAREFULLY (mixture is hot!) puree in a blender one cup at a time.
  5. Put the cooled puree through a strainer pressing out the pulp, this will remove any remaining skins and make a smoother sorbet.
  6. Pour the puree into a flat container and freeze for one hour.
  7. Remove the container and beat the slushy puree with a whisk (or electric hand mixer) and return to freezer for one hour.
  8. Repeat this process 3 more times (4 hours total). Leave overnight in the freezer for a firmer sorbet.

Other Facts

  • Green dye can be obtained from the leaves.
  • Dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit.
  • Plants have extensive root systems and can be used for binding sand along the coast.

Precautions

  • In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer.
  • In larger concentrations, however, cyanide can cause gasping, weakness, excitement, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, coma and respiratory failure leading to death.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=24790#null

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomydetail?id=30039

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Prunus+maritima

https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/PRNMR

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/rjp-3725

https://gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/species/prunus/maritima/

https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=PRMA2

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_maritima

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_PLANTMATERIALS/publications/njpmcpg13391.pdf

https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/44315

http://luirig.altervista.org/schedenam/fnam.php?taxon=Prunus+maritima

https://www.inaturalist.org/guide_taxa/15700

https://plants.usda.gov/home/plantProfile?symbol=PRMA2

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