Photo gallery General Beach plum fruit show a wide range of color variation. Beach plums growing in their native habitat. Beach plum growing on sand dune. Bees gathering pollen and nectar from beach plum flowers. Preserves and jellies – value-added beach plum products. Growers and researchers share information about beach plums. Biology Beach plum, Prunus maritima, is a medium-sized shrub that is found growing in coastal dune lands. (Sandy Neck, Barnstable, Mass.) The beach plum is a native American fruit. Its close relatives are Japanese and European plums, which are grown as horticulture crops. White flowers bloom in mid-May on reddish-brown twigs, and are pollinated by insects. The fruits are about 1.5 cm. in diameter and are usually purple. Fruits ripen from late August through September, with colors ranging from yellow to dark purple. Typical branching pattern showing two years of wood growth. Growth habit. Beach plums grow in coastal grasslands (Westport Point, Mass., above) and … … in shrub communities of Sandy Neck marsh trail, Barnstable, Mass., often less than 100 meters from the ocean. Culture Smaller and more astringent than other plums, beach plums’ unique flavor makes them desirable to process into preserves. Promotional poster circa 1951. These products have traditionally been made by a cottage industries almost exclusively from wild collected fruit. Beach plum is commonly collected from the wild in Westport, Mass. … … and on Long Island, N.Y. (above), as well as in New Jersey. Beach plum plants are available from nurseries (Sylvan Nursery, Dartmouth, Mass., above) and are used in landscaping and sand dune stabilization. An experimental fruit production orchard was established at Coonamessett Farm, East Falmouth, Mass., in 1996 as a collaborative project lead by Cape Cod Cooperative Extension. It was planted in a sandy borrow-pit unsuited to other crops. This is the same site at Coonamessett Farm soon after planting in 1997. Rick Uva, project manager, at the experimental orchard at Coonamessett Farm in 1997. Note the pattern of moist soil from the drip irrigation. Experimental treatments of mulch, fertilizer, and irrigation at Coonamessett Farm in 1997. Rick Uva at the Coonamessett orchard in the summer of 1999. Note the size of beach plums planted in the fertilized treatment after two years in the orchard. August fruit yield in 2001. Pests Brown rot fungi, Monilinia spp., is the most common and most damaging disease of beach plum. The blossom blight phase occurs in spring … … and the fruit rot phase occurs in late summer. The beach plum’s most serious insect pest is the plum gouger, Anthonomous scutellaris. It is similar to plum curculio, and makes a hole in fruit as seen in the seeds shown above. Minor pests include plum pockets which deform the fruit … … and peach leaf curl, both caused by a Taphrina spp.fungus. Black knot, a fungal disease, affects beach plum and other stone fruit. Aphids, such as Hysteroneura setariae, may be controlled naturally by predatory insects like the “lady bug” shown here. Red humped apple moth caterpillars, Schizura comcinna, can defoliate plants. Tent caterpillars also can infest beach plums.