Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Oemleria cerasiformis - Indian-plum

Family: Rosaceae (Rose) [E-flora]

"Indian Plum is 5 m tall shrub that is found in North America from British Columbia south to northern California. In British Columbia, it is found in the extreme southwest corner of the province, on the mainland and on southeastern Vancouver Island. It is one of the first native species to flower in the spring, coinciding with the arrival the Rufous Hummingbird, and has been observed flowering as early as the last week in February. Flowers are in loose drooping clusters of white flowers and are mostly unisexual, with male and female flowers on separate plants. Fruits are initially orange in colour, turning blue as they ripen." [E-flora]

"Oemleria cerasiformis is a deciduous Shrub growing to 2.5 m (8ft) by 4 m (13ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower from Mar to April. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil." [PFAF]

General: Medium to tall shrub, 1-5 m tall; stems clumped, arching; pith chambered; bark bitter, purplish-brown.
Leaves: Alternate, deciduous, lanceolate to oblong-egg-shaped or elliptic, short-stalked, the stalks 5-10 mm long, the blades 5-12 cm long, not toothed, pale green and smooth above, paler and often sparsely hairy below; crushed leaves smell like cucumber.
Flowers: Inflorescences loose, drooping, bracted, 5- to 10-cm long clusters, at the ends of short axillary branchlets, of several (5 to 10) stalked flowers; flowers mostly unisexual, the male and female flowers on separate plants, appearing very early in the year, as the leaves develop; corollas greenish-white, saucer- to cup-shaped, about 1 cm across, the petals 5, egg-shaped, 5-6 mm long, spreading (shorter, narrower and erect on female flowers); calyces 6-7 mm long, 5-lobed, the lobes about equalling the top-shaped hypanthium; ovaries (female plants) usually 5, superior; stamens 15.
Fruits: Fleshy drupes, like small plums with a large stone, bean-shaped, about 1 cm long, peach-coloured, ripening to bluish-black with a whitish bloom, 1 to 5 per female flower; seeds 1 per drupe. [IFBC-E-flora]

Ecological Indicator Information
"A shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to montane, Western North American deciduous shrub distributed more in the Pacific than the Cordilleran region. Occurs in maritime to submaritime summer-dry cool mesothermal climates on fresh to very moist, nitrogen-rich soils often with a fluctuating groundwater table. Its occurrence decreases with increasing latitude and continentality. Scattered in broad-leaved forests on water-receiving sites (most often on floodplains) with melanized and often gleyed soils. Commonly associated with Cornus sericea, Sambucus racemosa, and Symphoricarpos albus. Characteristic of Moder and Mull humus forms." [IPBC-E-flora]

Habitat / Range
"Moist to dry open forests, forest edges, thickets, streambanks, clearings and roadsides in the lowland zone; frequent on S Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the adjacent mainland; S to N CA.
Rocky valleys and canyons by streams, roadsides and moist to fairly dry open woods[60]. Western N. America - British Columbia to California." [IFBC-E-flora]

Origin Status: Native [E-flora]


Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

"The seed requires 4 months stratification at 4°c. It is probably best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Sow stored seed as early in the year as possible. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Layering in spring. Takes 6 months[78]. Suckers, taken at any time in the dormant season[188]." [PFAF]

"Succeeds in an ordinary well-drained garden soil[11, 200], but becomes chlorotic on shallow soils over chalk[200]. Prefers a well-drained moisture retentive soil in a shady position[200]. Requires a sunny position according to another report[182]. Plants are hardy to about -20°c[184]. This species grows well in a woodland garden or in a damp shady border[200]. The plants often sucker freely and can form dense thickets[188]. Old plants can be rejuvenated by cutting them back hard into the old wood in late winter, they will resprout freely from the base[200]. Growth can be restricted by removing suckers and cutting old shoots back or down to the base in late winter[188]. Some, if not all plants are dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required." [PFAF]


Oemleria Sp. - Oso Berry

1 sp. (A.G. Oemler, German naturalist at Savannah, Georgia, 1773–1852) Unabridged etymology: (Augustus Gottlieb Oemler, German naturalist at Savannah, Georgia, 1773–1852)
Unabridged references: [Landon 1975 Taxon 24:200] [Jepson]

Local Species;

  1. Oemleria cerasiformis - Indian-plum


Page last modified on Monday, June 12, 2023 8:30 PM