Oemleria cerasiformis, also known as the Indian Plum or Oso-berry, is a deciduous shrub or small tree that is a stunning harbinger of spring, featuring greenish-white flowers with a sweet almond scent that provide an early nectar source for hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. The lance-shaped leaves are dark green on top and emit a fresh cucumber scent when crushed, turning golden-yellow in late summer to early fall. The female plants produce olive-sized berries that are initially tan to pale orange, then transition through pink to reddish-purple before ripening to a bluish-black in early summer, attracting birds and small mammals. The Oso-berry is also dioecious, requiring a nearby male pollinator for the female plants to produce berries.
The Oso-berry is an excellent addition to a shrub border or woodland garden. It is popular for restoration projects due to its ease of propagation, rapid growth, and wide tolerances for various shade and moisture regimes. Its fruits are a favourite of wildlife, making it an excellent choice for natural areas. Additionally, the bark of the Oso Berry is mildly laxative, and a poultice of the chewed burned plant mixed with oil has been used to treat sore parts of the body. Although the fruit is edible for humans, it is often bitter even when fully ripe, and caution is advised due to its toxicity.
If you’re looking for a beautiful, hardy plant that attracts pollinators and wildlife, and can thrive in a variety of growing conditions, consider adding the Oemleria cerasiformis to your garden or restoration project.
References https://ibis.geog.ubc.ca/biodiversity/eflora/ https://www.wildflower.org/plants/ http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/ Photo credit Wikipedia
Best uses are in open areas, large woodlands, and for land reclamation.
General: Medium to tall shrub, 1-5 m tall; stems clumped, arching; pith chambered; bark bitter, purplish-brown.
Leaves: Alternate, deciduous, lanceolate to oblong-egg-shaped or elliptic, short-stalked, the stalks 5-10 mm long, the blades 5-12 cm long, not toothed, pale green and smooth above, paler and often sparsely hairy below; crushed leaves smell like cucumber.
Flowers: Inflorescences loose, drooping, bracted, 5- to 10-cm long clusters, at the ends of short axillary branchlets, of several (5 to 10) stalked flowers; flowers mostly unisexual, the male and female flowers on separate plants, appearing very early in the year, as the leaves develop; corollas greenish-white, saucer- to cup-shaped, about 1 cm across, the petals 5, egg-shaped, 5-6 mm long, spreading (shorter, narrower and erect on female flowers); calyces 6-7 mm long, 5-lobed, the lobes about equalling the top-shaped hypanthium; ovaries (female plants) usually 5, superior; stamens 15.
Fruits: Fleshy drupes, like small plums with a large stone, bean-shaped, about 1 cm long, peach-coloured, ripening to bluish-black with a whitish bloom, 1 to 5 per female flower; seeds 1 per drupe.