Oemleria cerasiformis

Indian plum


The Basics

Taxonomy: Kingdom - Plantae (plants). Subkingdom - Tracheobionta (vascular plants). Superdivision - Spermatophyta (seed plants). Division - Magnoliophyta (flowering plants). Class - Magnoliopsida (dicotyledons). Subclass - Rosidae. Order - Rosales. Family - Rosaceae (rose). Genus - Oemleria Rchb. Species - Oemleria cerasiformis (Torr. & A. Gray) Landon.

Ecology: Indian plum is found from the Pacific coast to the western slopes of the Cascades and the northern Sierra Nevada. It is one of the earlier flowering woody plants in the Pacific Northwest and provides good cover and food for birds and other animals. The flowers are foul smelling, part of a fly-pollination syndrome.

In the WFDP: Indian plum is incredibly rare in the WFDP, with only two stems (which are two leaders of the same tree) above 1 cm at DBH that are tagged.


Leaves: petiole 512(15) mm; blade abaxially paler, 510(15) 1.54 cm, base cuneate, apex acute to obtuse. Inflorescences appearing with leaves, 310 cm. Flowers: sepals 1.52 mm, glabrous, glabrate, or hairy; petals (3)46 mm (smaller on pistillate flowers); stamens 10 within hypanthium, 5 exserted from rim; carpels 34(4.5) mm. Drupes glaucous, taste bitter.


Pests and pathogens: Indian plum rarely suffers insect or disease injury but can be susceptible to rhododendron lace bug (Stephanitis rhododendri) and a conidia producing leaf spot fungus, Cylindrosporium nuttallii.


Seed production: Ten pounds of fresh fruit will yield approximately 2.5 lb. of seed. Seeds of Indian plum are larger toward the southern extent of its range with about 1800 seeds per pound in California versus more than 4000 in Washington. Viability is usually high with 90+% germination after two to four months of moist chilling (stratification).

Vegetative Reproduction: This plant spreads slowly, mostly by root suckering. Although Indian plum seed is dispersed by many birds and mammals, it requires a disturbed site in order to become established. Hardwood cuttings of vigorous 1-yr old wood collected early in winter and treated with rooting hormone often perform well. Success with softwood and semi-hard wood cuttings has also been reported. New plants can be obtained by layering in the spring with separation from the parent plants during the following dormant season.

Species Distribution


USDA Plants Database
USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
Photo credit: Lindsey Koepke, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
Photo credit: Brother Alfred Brousseau, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

USDA Plant Fact Sheet
USDA NRCS Corvallis, Oregon Plant Materials Center.

Flora of North America
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 19+ vols. New York and Oxford.