Today at the Patuxent Research Refuge, we stopped by the Chickasaw Plum “Grove” (Prunus angustifolia Marshall). There are two clumps of the trees at this location, and they put on a nice display.
According to Sargent in 1965 and E.L. Little in 1979, this species was originally native to central Texas and Oklahoma, and was naturalized beyond that range (including Maryland) by Native Americans in pre-European settlement times. Renown botanist William Bartram wrote that “he never saw the Chickasaw plum wild in the forests but always in old deserted Indian plantations”. He hypothesized that the Chickasaw Indians brought it from the Southwest beyond the Mississippi River (Bartram, 1791).
So we may surmise that these trees could have likely been planted by Native Americans many centuries ago.
- Bartram, W. 1791. Travels through North and SouthCarolina, Georgia, East and West Florida. In Little, E. L. Checklist of United States Trees. USDA FS Washington, D.C.
- Little, E. L. 1979. Checklist of United States Trees. USDA FS Washington, D.C.
- Sargent, C. S. 1965. Manual of the trees of North America. 2nd Ed. Vol. II. Dover Pub., Inc. New York. 934p.