Prunus geniculata

Common Names:
scrub plum
Growth Habit:
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Carl W. Weekley
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Bok Tower Gardens

The conservation of Prunus geniculata is fully sponsored.
Carl W. Weekley contributed to this Plant Profile.


Scrub plum (Prunus geniculata) is a woody shrub restricted to xeric upland habitats on the Lake Wales Ridge of Central Florida. It is a member of the rose family (the Rosaceae) which includes peaches, cherries, apricots, almonds and...roses. Scrub plum is very drought tolerant, with small leaves that conserve water and a fibrous root system that can extract moisture from the well-drained soils. Scrub plum is also adapted to the fire ecology of the Ridge sandhill and scrub habitats, resprouting from the roots after a fire.
Scrub plum's overall appearance has been likened to plants found in a Japanese garden. It has a low rounded form, generally growing to 3 to 4 feet tall. Its trunk is gnarled, and partly buried in sand. Older plants are distinguished by graying bark covered with lichens. The name geniculata describes scrub plum's zigzag branches, formed by twigs angled at each node. These angles are like bent knees, "geniculate". Each twig usually ends in a stout spine.
In late summer, plants lose most of their leaves, fully exposing scrub plums "bent knees". In February and March, delicate white flowers with yellow stamens sprout from skeletal branches. Fine toothed leaves develop later, after the plants have begun to set fruit. The miniature plums develop in April and May, ripening to a soft reddish purple. The fruits and the seeds they contain are a treat to wildlife. Scrub plums seedlings are hard to find in the wild, perhaps because the seeds are such delectable treats.

Distribution & Occurrence


Conservation, Ecology & Research