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Purple Leaf Plum Tree and the Purple Leaf Plum

Did you know there 20 types of plums? You may only think of a luscious purple plum when you think of a plum. However, there are also green ones.

Some of them have unique leaves, which make them stand out from the rest of the crowd. For instance, the purple leaf plum tree is most known for its vibrant purple leaves. However, they may also produce red, purple, or yellow plums.

Blooming Purple Leaf Plum Tree.
Blooming Purple Leaf Plum Tree

You may opt for these plum trees as an addition to enhance the landscape of your yard, while also getting to enjoy the fruit, although the taste for this plum is a bit of an acquired one. 

History of the Purple Leaf Plum Tree

The Purple Leaf Plum Tree originated in Persia, which is present-day Iran. In 1880, M. Pissard brought the tree from Persia to France. Since then, it’s gained a great deal of popularity as a decorative tree since its reddish-purple to purple leaves stand out in the sea of green.

Today, people enjoy the beauty of this tree, and although the fruit isn’t ideal raw, people have developed a number of recipes.

Purple Leaf Plum Tree Characteristics

The plum tree classifies as a medium-sized, deciduous tree, meaning it drops its leaves at the end of the growing season. Typically, it reaches a height of between 15 and 25 feet. Once it reaches maturity, you can expect the top of the tree to spread to a width of 20 to 25 feet. 

The leaves range in color from deep red to purple. They’re serrated and ovate. Generally, the leaves grow between 1.5 and three inches in length. They lose all their leaves somewhere between August to the end of September. 

In the spring, usually between February to April, they develop fragrant flowers that range in color from white to light pink. 

They develop small plums in July. By August, the plums ripen enough that you may eat them. The fruit only gets to be about the size of a cherry. Sometimes, the tree won’t produce fruit at all.

You’ll notice that sometimes the fruit is sweet, while other times it’s more on the sour side. It has been compared to the fruit of a crab apple tree since it doesn’t always reap high-quality fruit. 

Planting Zone

These plum trees may grow in a variety of zones, particularly ones that have a moderate climate — not too hot but also not too cold. They grow well in zones four through nine, but they thrive the best in zones five through nine. 

Some specific states that purple leaf plums grow well in include California, Washington state, Oregon, Idaho, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Tennessee, Montana, and Michigan. 

Size and Spacing

If you choose to plant multiple trees, you’ll need to consider spacing. Since they span out at the top a great deal, there needs to be enough space in between each plant to ensure each one gets all the necessary sunlight to thrive. Since they can grow up to 25 feet wide, you should take this into consideration when you’re planting them. However, if you have other plants around them you should keep in mind how large these get when deciding on how close to plant them together. 

If your plants don’t get enough sunlight, their leaves won’t turn the deep color that they should.


Purple leaf plum trees are self-pollinating. That means that the pollen from one flower can pollinate either the same flower or another flower on the tree. This works nicely if you only desire one tree or only have enough room for one tree.  

Purple Leaf Plum Tree Care 

Fortunately, the purple leaf plum tree is a hearty plant. It doesn’t require much maintenance and grows well in a variety of locations.  


This tree grows best in direct sunlight or partial shade. Without adequate sunlight, your tree’s leaves will turn a greenish color rather than purple or red. Additionally, you may notice that it won’t grow at all fruit or only a small quantity of fruit. 


When your tree is young, it requires regular watering. Generally, you want to water it once per week. After your purple leaf plum is established, it’s moderately resistant to droughts, but you’ll still want to give it a deep watering when it’s hot outside. To deep water your tree, you direct the water toward the base of the tree. 


Pruning is relatively easy for this tree. It requires little pruning. Focus on removing only the dead branches, diseased, or broken ones. Keep in mind that broken branches are an entryway for disease to set in, so you’ll want to remove those as needed.

However, you want to complete the main pruning either before the tree blooms or after your notice the leaves unfolding. Fortunately, even if you prune before the tree blossoms, you might not notice a loss in flowers since it’s abundant in flowers. 

If you notice your plant has silver leaf, which is a fungal infection, you’ll want to wait until the middle of the summer to prune it. 

Common Uses For Purple Leaf Plum Tree Fruit

The fruit is the only portion of this tree that’s safe for human or animal consumption. The fruit is small, but it has a flavor that works ideally in a variety of baked goods. 

What Does This Fruit Taste Like?

The fruit belongs in the category of cherry plums. They have a tart taste in most cases. 


You could try making a plum muffin from these plums. You could also try making a jam. Feel free to get creative and mix flavors. It’s also possible to make jelly from this fruit or also a pie. Cakes, crumbles, pies, and tarts are other options. 

If you’re looking for a plum recipe, you could try this plum crisp. 

A unique way to enjoy these fruits is to place them in vodka with sugar and allow them to sit in the jar for two weeks. You’ll create your own flavorful vodka. 


You can eat these fruits raw. They have a sourish taste, so if that’s not your favorite flavor, you may want to forgo eating them raw and choose to cook with them. 


Canning is a way to preserve fruits, so you can enjoy them during other parts of the year besides the summer. Typically, if you can plums, you can use them up to a year after you can them. You may opt to can them in fruit juice, syrup, or water. You may even want to can them with other fruits for a special treat. 

Since these are so small, you may want to can them whole. You can choose to leave the seed in when you can them. On the other hand, you can cut them up and deseed them. Because they’re a smaller plum, you should only half them, not cut them any further. 


Freezing is a way you can store plums for six months. Sometimes, they’ll last longer, especially if you flash freeze them first. You can choose to freeze them whole or cut them up; it’s your choice. 


You may choose to dry your plums for a chewy treat. You may opt for whole or halves. You may need to cut them if you choose to dry them in a food dehydrator. However, if you want whole plums, it’s best to dry them in your oven. Typically, after you clean them, you place them on a cooking sheet spaced apart. You put them on 180 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 hours. In the end, your plums will still be juicy.

Health Benefits Purple Plums

These plums have phytochemicals and other nutrients that are known to reduce inflammation. Specifically, these plums may lower your risk of heart disease as a result since it reduces inflammation. 

Plums have fiber, which can prevent and reduce the severity of constipation. It’s also beneficial for your heart health and may help better manage your blood sugar levels. 

These plums are also low in calories, so they won’t add unnecessary calories to your diet. 

Where To Buy The Purple Leaf Plum Tree

Fortunately, purple leaf plum trees are easy to find because nurseries carry them as ornamental trees. However, if you don’t want to have to haul it in your car, you may opt to purchase them online.

You can purchase a purple leaf plum tree from Nature Hills Nursery if you’d like to purchase one online and have it delivered to your door. The nursery has a history of delivering high-quality, healthy plants that thrive well once planted. 

Where To Buy The Fruit

These typically aren’t known as a fruit that people want to eat. Therefore, you won’t find the plums in any stores since they’re not high-quality fruit, and these trees are decorative and not known to yield a tremendous quantity of fruit. 

You won’t find any jellies, jams, or other items made from these fruits in stores, either, even if you search at local orchards. Everything you make from these plums will be what you make. 

If you’re looking for a tree to enhance the curbside appeal of your home, you may want to choose the purple leaf plum tree. Their leaves stand out in your yard, especially if you plant the tree in the sunshine, where the leaves can turn red or purple.

Additionally, the flowers really pop during the spring and early summer months. Plus, even though they aren’t known for producing plums, purple leaf plums are edible, and you can use them in a variety of recipes. 

Excited for more plum content? Then check out our plum trees page for the latest growing tips, care guides, recipes, and more!