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Chickasaw Plum

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Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. A much less noticeable member of the genus prunus which is native to South Carolina is Prunus angustifolia, with the common name of Chickasaw plum. In South Carolina, we find it in mixed stands growing in medium to dry soils, often in dense thickets. It has good tolerance to drought, and in its western range is extremely important as a food and shelter source for animals. You wouldn’t want to try to walk through a stand of these plums are they are very twiggy as they naturally form colonies from numerous root sprouts.  Their flowers support pollinators and many animals, both birds and mammals use it for nesting or shelter. When thickets of it grow where beef cattle graze, the USDA Natural Resources fact sheet reports those animals gain more weight compared to cattle which aren’t able to take shelter in the shade. 

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.