Prunus americana is a shrub or small tree that can form small groves in moist middle elevation creekbeds and riparian areas. The small umbels of flowers bloom in the spring before the plant leafs out. The bark is gray and obviously peeling away in larger trunks. The trunks can be up to 21cm in diameter. The flowers are white and the petals are about one centimeter long. The leaves are serrate and mostly glabrous.
Shrub or small tree to 8 m, spreading from the roots and forming thickets; lvs obovate to obovate-oblong, usually somewhat hairy beneath, 6-l0 cm, abruptly and sharply acuminate, acute to obtuse at base, sharply and coarsely (often doubly) serrate, the teeth spreading or antrorse, acuminate, 1-2 mm, glandless but tending to have a callous point; petiole mostly glandless; fls 2-4 in an umbel; pet white, 10-15 mm; sep often pubescent on the upper side, often distally toothed, glandless or with a few very obscure glands; fr red to yellow, glaucous, 2-3 cm thick; stone compressed; 2n=16. Moist woods, roadsides and fence-rows; N.H. to Man. and Mont., s. to n. Fla. and Okla. May, June.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
More or less frequent throughout the state. It prefers moist soil and is commonly found in open woodland along streams, about ponds and lakes, and in moist, prairie habitats. In Indiana this tree rarely reaches a diameter of 8 inches and is generally 2-5 inches in diameter. Its habit of sprouting prolifically gives rise to our "plum thickets."