Prunus pumila (L.), sandcherry, is a native North American small shrub found from New Brunswick and Manitoba south to Wyoming, Colorado, Wisconsin, New Jersey, and the mountains of North Carolina. The species is valued for its ability to tolerate challenging landscaping situations. It is a drought-, heat-, and salt-tolerant plant that grows in dry, sandy, infertile soils, and is tolerant to deer browse (Shrestha and Lubell, 2015). This group of plants has been classified as either four separate species, two species (one with one variety and a second with three varieties), or one highly variable species with four varieties (Catling et al., 1999; Fernald, 1950; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 1993+; Gleason and Cronquist, 1991). Here we follow the Flora of North America Editorial Committee (1993+) and consider Prunus pumila a single species with the four varieties depressa (Pursh) Bean eastern sandcherry, susquehanae (Willdenow) H. Jaeger Susquehana or Appalachian sandcherry, pumila Great Lakes sandcherry, and besseyi (L.H. Bailey) Wangh western or Bessey’s sandcherry.
The variety depressa has stems prostrate and mat-forming, with leaves narrowly oblanceolate and pale beneath, and fruit 1 cm in diameter. It is found on open, rocky to gravelly soils or sandy shores of streams and lakes, especially in calcareous regions of Massachusetts, northern New York, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania, as well as eastern Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick, Canada. The variety susquehanae (syn. var. cuneata) has densely puberulent twigs; erect, ascending stems; fruit 1 cm in diameter; and leaves oblong to obovate with acute bases. It is found on acidic dry, sandy, or rocky sites in woodlands, fields, and lakeshores from Maine to Minnesota and southward through Indiana, Ohio, and many parts of the mid–East Coast states to North Carolina, as well as Quebec to Manitoba, Canada. The variety pumila has erect and diffusely branched, glabrous stems and fruit 1 cm in diameter. Leaves are narrowly oblanceolate, sometimes obovate with narrow cuneate bases, and with lustrous upper surfaces and pale undersides. It grows in sandy, gravelly, or rocky beaches and dunes, especially along the Great Lakes and Ontario, Canada, and farther inland. The variety besseyi has ascending to decumbent branches with ascending tips; is mat-forming; and has oblanceolate, elliptic, to obovate leaves that are glaucous beneath and can be coriaceous, with fruit 1.5 cm in diameter. This is primarily a western form that ranges from Ohio westward to Minnesota, Montana, and Oregon, down to Kansas, as well as Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, Canada (Bragg, 2002; Catling et al., 1999; Cullina, 2002; Fernald, 1950; Flora of North America, 1993+; Gleason and Cronquist, 1991).
Prunus pumila ‘UCONNPP002’ Jade Parade® is a low and wide, rapidly growing, semiprostrate groundcover with branches that spread outward horizontally and then arch upward. This cultivar is vigorous, with a full, dense, rounded outline. It is intermediate in growth form between its parents: Prunus pumila var. depressa and P. p. var. susquehanae. ‘UCONNPP002’ is a taller, faster growing plant with larger flowers than Prunus pumila var. besseyi ‘P011S’ Pawnee Buttes®, the most similar Prunus pumila cultivar currently available in the nursery trade. ‘UCONNPP002’ sandcherry is a profuse bloomer with showy, white flowers in spring; dark olive-green summer foliage; and red-orange fall foliage color. It is easy to propagate by stem cuttings and easy to grow in the commercial nursery. It is adaptable to dry, sandy, rocky soils and is tolerant to drought and road salt in the landscape. It grows well on both acidic and alkaline soils as long as they are well-drained.
Bragg, D.C. 2002 Prunus pumila L. In: J.K. Francis (ed.). Wildland shrubs of the United States and its territories: Thamnic descriptions general technical report IITF-WB-1. 20 Jan. 2021. <https://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/ja/ja_bragg009.pdf>
Catling, P.M., McKay-Kuja, S.M. & Mitrow, G. 1999 Rank and typification in North American dwarf cherries, and a key to the taxa Taxon 48 483 488
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