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It's not a Beachplum or a Beach Bum or a Peach Plum it's a Beach Plum! The Beach Plum (Prunus maritima) is a native fruit growing wild along the coastal communities from Maine to Virginia. The Beach Plum is a member of the Rosaceae or Rose Family. The Beach Plum's glossy green-leafed plants sprout profuse lightly fragrant white blooms mid May.
Beach Plums flowering in mid-April at the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
Plant Material Center in Cape May County, New Jersey
By early June the Beach Plums have set fruit in little blueberry-size green berries. Growing to the size of a large bing cherry, edible fruits of deep purple, crimson or the rare bright yellow Beach Plum ripen in August through September. From early summer through the late fall the Beach Plum trees retain their brilliant green foliage.
A birds nest hidden amoungst the rippening Beach Plums in August
Although sometimes mistakenly called berries the Beach Plum is an actual plum with a pit or stone. It has a sweet tart flavor and can be eaten as fresh fruit or made into a value added food product such as jam, jelly, syrup, wine, etc.. Recent studies done by Rutgers University found that the Beach Plum is as high in antioxidants as the Cranberry. It was also determined that the Beach Plum possesses antibacterial antigens, the same property in Cranberries that fights infection.
Once quite prevalent on the barrier islands in New Jersey the Beach Plum has now almost dissappeared due to development and introduction of non-native, invasive plants. A few places such as Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area in Cape May County are an example of what our barrier islands once looked like. The Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area is part of the NJDEP, New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife.
Beach Plum Tree occurring naturally at Higbee's Wildlife Management Area shown in winter
Beach Plums flowering in April at Higbee's Wildlife Management
The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Services, Plant Materials Center has been studying the Beach Plum for the past 30 years and identified it as a dune restoration plant; a companion plant for dune grass as the beach does not live by grass alone. Now the Cape May County Beach Plum Association along with USDA-NRCS Plant Materials Center, The Cape May County Rutgers Cooperative Extension as well as various environmentalists, conservationists, and local municipalities are working dilegently to bring back the mighty Beach Plum to our shores. There are now over 25 farms throughout southern New Jersey that are growing Beach Plums for dune restoration, horticultural application as well as orchard style for fruit production. Several of those farms are vineyards! Natali Vineyards makes a pure Beach Plum Wine that is only available in November/December. Jalma Farms is a regular vendor at varous festivals at the vineyard. Come join us to taste our Jammin Beach Plum and Jammin Hot Pepper Beach Plum jams as well as Natali's Beach Plum Wine!
CAPE MAY COUNTY, NEW JERSEY!