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I found an old plum tree!!!

Posted by max13077 (My Page) on
Mon, Sep 8, 08 at 22:07

We were out birding the other day on a friends property when we came across a very old plum tree!! My friend said a turn of the century farm used to occupy the property. However its been allow to return to nature. One of the last standing remnants is this plum tree.

They are very small, slightly longer than an inch and about of an inch wide. We picked some and they are very good. The tree has been growing an estimated 75-100 years!!! I don't know if that's even possible but it sure was nice to find them! Now Im wondering if I can plant the pits and maybe start my own tree?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: I found an old plum tree!!!

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Mon, Sep 8, 08 at 22:42

There two things you can do

1) take cuttings and root them

2) contact the main agricultural universities in your state (in Michigan, that would be Mich. State). They have

a) people who would be interested in coming to take cuttings
b) small grants to develop/rediscover old varieties

If it has grown unattended for years and is producing good fruit it is worth something. I looked into it once a friend discovered a walnut tree in Zone 4, North MI, outside its growing range.

RE: I found an old plum tree!!!

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Mon, Sep 8, 08 at 23:12

Some areas (such as mine) orchard plums of various types growing untended on vacant, marginal or even wild lands are very common. In other regions there are native species present. The value of - and interest liable to be shown in - your find depends on what the situation is there. It is certainly worthwhile that this particular specimen produces fruits that taste good.

RE: I found an old plum tree!!!

It sounds like an old prune plum. I don't know how true to seed those come. They also don't root very well. To be sure you get the same plum you would want to graft it. If you post some pictures we may be able to identify the variety.


RE: I found an old plum tree!!!

You should also be able to take scions from this year's growth and graft them to another plum. But often on older trees it is hard to find nice scion wood.

If you do take scions wait until late winter. Look for "pencils"- nice straight sections with three or four well-spaced buds. Store in a closed zip lock with a little damp paper towel wrapped around the cuts. Keep them cold in the refrigerator until your target tree is ready.

Good luck,


RE: I found an old plum tree!!!

Here is some information I read about growing fruit trees from seeds. If you have a few extra seeds, I would love to try a few. I too live in Michigan. I can trade you a couple seeds from a delicious peach I bought at the farmer's market that was grown in Romeo. I don't know the name but it did grow some delicious peaches. LMK

Here is some information about growing fruit trees from seeds that I read about in the June/July 2008 issue of Mother Earth News. The author is Lee Reich. I am not typing out the entire article but will copy the highlights...

"Most fruit trees are best grown from grafted trees that cost $25 to $35 each. But with peaches, nectarines and apricots, you can cut your cost to zero by growing trees from seeds."

"the almond-like seeds in pits from peaches, nectarines and apricots do a good job of carrying on the desirable traits of their parents." He recommends purchasing local fruit from a farmer's market and saving the seeds to sprout so you know you have a great tasting variety and that they will do well in your area. Choose from mid to late season varieties, avoid early season because the seeds may not fully develop.

Cracking the pits:

Allow to dry on the counter for a few days.

Use a vise (if available) to crack open the pits to avoid crushing or breaking the seed. You could also try a nut cracker or other type of clamp. A hammer might work but you risk hurting your fingers and breaking the seed.

After getting the seed, store in the refrigerator or other cool place you would normally store seeds.


This will take 2 to 3 months

Usually best done in early spring

There are a couple methods...
Bury in pots and plant in the garden, you have a risk of varmits eating them but mother nature does all the work

Plant them up and keep in the refrigerator.

Stratification in the refrigerator:

Start 4 months before you plan on planting outside.

Soak the seeds in room temperature water overnight.

Place in a jar of damp potting mix, close the lid and place in the refrigerator in an area that won't freeze.

Monitor monthly for sprouts but keep in the refrigerator until a month before you plant outside. Pot up and harden off as you would any other plant in your area.

Plant where you want them to grow and protect them.

Grow on:

Plant in pH neutral soil which drains well
Keep well mulched
Prune only dead, diseased or broken trees because this will delay fruit
Watch the moisture of the soil
Protect from insects

Trees grown from seed will take from 3 to 5 years to bear fruit.

Research the average size of the trees and plant accordingly since most trees naturally grow from 12 to 20 feet tall.

In my case, this would be a great way to try to espalier a couple fruit trees for my tiny yard.

If you would like the entire article, you can purchase back issues from the Mother Earth News website at or you may be able to find the issue at your library.

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