KANSAS – The Sandhill Plum is official the state fruit of Kansas.
Governor Laura Kelly signed a bill yesterday, April 12, 2020. The Sandhill plum is also known as the Chickasaw plum. The bill takes effect upon publication in the Kansas Register.
Kansas fourth and fifth graders lead the process. Students from Sabetha Elementary School started the process and were in attendance on Tuesday to witness the bill become law.
Students from more than a dozen schools in the state joined in the process in various ways, like writing essays and testifying on the bill virtually. Some students even voted.
Other fruits in contention were the red mulberry, the gooseberry and the American Persimmon.
You can read more about the Sandhill plum below.
Prunus angustifolia, or Sand Hill plum or Chickasaw plum, is native in much of Kansas. It is the most common wild plum in western Kansas. It is found naturally on sandy prairies where it is very effective in stopping blowing sand. Sand hill plum is similar to American plum, both forms thickets from roots suckers. They differ in site characteristics and plant and leaf size. Sand hill plum grows to a height of 3 to 4 feet with a spread of 4 to 6 feet. It grows at about 12 to 18 inches per year.
Leaves, Stems, and Fruit
Leaves are elliptical with small teeth on the edges. The 1 to 2 1/2 inches long leaves are slightly folded lengthwise with the tip curled down and are located on alternate sides of the twig. Flowers are white and form in early April before leaves appear. Fruits are bright red or orange with a whitish film and three-quarters to one inch long. They mature in late June or July and persist to mid-August. Twigs are rigid and often spine-tipped.
Wildlife Habitat – Sand hill plum is a popular plant for use in developing wildlife habitat on sandy soils. The thorny thicket is valuable for songbird and game bird nesting, loafing and roosting. Various other animals also use it for loafing, bedding and escape cover. Numerous birds and other animals consume the fruit.
Windbreaks – This plant may be used as the outside row of a windbreak for ground level wind protection. White flowers are attractive and fragrant in the spring. Some people find its thicket forming habit objectionable in windbreaks.
Water Erosion Control – Sand hill plum is very effective in stabilizing blowing soil. People also use it to stabilize stream banks and gullies.
Human Food – Folks use the fruit to make wine, jam and jelly.