Indian plum Oemleria cerasiformis

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
oso berry


Oemleria cerasiformis, commonly known as Indian plum or osoberry, is a deciduous shrub that is indigenous to the Pacific Northwest of North America. Distinctive for its early spring flowers and summer fruits, Indian plum bears small, white blossoms that hang in loose clusters, giving way to an elegant display against the backdrop of its emerging foliage. The flowers are often noted for attracting early-season pollinators. Leaves on the Indian plum are elongated and pointed, with a smooth texture and a vibrant green color that can turn to shades of yellow in the fall. The foliage is arranged alternatively along the branches, creating a lush, full appearance. The fruit resembles a small plum, starting green and ripening to a dark blue or purple, with a large pit inside. The presence of fruit also serves as an important food source for various birds and wildlife during later summer months. When crushed, the foliage and twigs exude a distinct and somewhat sharp almond-like fragrance. Overall, Indian plum has a graceful and natural aesthetic that makes it a favorite in native plant gardens and restoration projects.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Oregon Plum, Indian Plum, Osoberry, Bird Cherry, Indian Peach.

    • Common names

      Nuttallia cerasiformis, Osmaronia cerasiformis

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The plant commonly known as Indian plum is not widely recognized for its toxicity to humans. There is limited information on its potential poisonous properties, and it does not appear to be commonly associated with severe adverse effects upon ingestion. However, as a general precaution, it is advisable not to consume parts of plants when their edibility is uncertain or when one is not knowledgeable about them.

    • To pets

      Indian plum is not well-documented for its toxicity in pets. It is not typically listed among plants that are highly toxic to animals like cats and dogs. However, the general lack of comprehensive information regarding its potential toxicity means that it is wise to prevent pets from consuming this plant. If a pet does ingest Indian plum and exhibits any signs of discomfort or illness, it is recommended to seek veterinary care promptly.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      6-15 feet [1.8-4.6 meters]

    • Spread

      4-10 feet [1.2-3 meters]

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      North America


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Wildlife Habitat: Oemleria cerasiformis, commonly known as Indian plum, provides food and shelter for various species of wildlife including birds and small mammals.
    • Early Bloomer: Indian plum is one of the first plants to bloom in late winter or early spring, which can provide early-season nectar for pollinators.
    • Erosion Control: With its woody stems and extensive root system, Indian plum can help stabilize soil and reduce erosion on slopes.
    • Landscape Aesthetics: Indian plum has attractive white flowers and can be used in landscaping to add aesthetic value to gardens and natural areas.
    • Edible Fruit: The small, plum-like fruits are edible and can be used to make jellies and jams, though they tend to be astringent when not fully ripe.
    • Native Plant Conservation: By cultivating Indian plum, which is native to the Pacific Northwest, gardeners and restoration projects can support local ecosystems and biodiversity.
    • Cultural Significance: Indigenous peoples have historically used Indian plum for various purposes, thus planting it can acknowledge and honor cultural heritage and traditional uses.
    • Natural Pesticide: The plant is often resistant to pests and diseases, reducing the need for chemical pesticides in the environment where it grows.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • The wood of Oso berry can be used in small woodworking projects as it is hard and dense, making it suitable for creating handles and small carved objects.
    • Oso berry branches may serve as natural garden stakes, offering support to tomato plants and other vegetables that require staking.
    • Dried Oso berry branches are sometimes used in floral arrangements for their rustic look and the added textural contrast they provide.
    • The plant provides early spring forage for bees. As one of the earliest blooming native plants, its flowers are an important nectar source when little else is available.
    • Bird enthusiasts might use Oso berry plants to attract and nourish wildlife, as birds are fond of the berries once they ripen in the summer.
    • The Oso berry can be used in natural dye production, with various parts of the plant providing different colors and shades.
    • As an early indicator of spring, Oso berry's blooming period is sometimes used by naturalists to note the onset of seasonal changes.
    • In landscaping, Oso berry is used for erosion control on slopes due to its extensive root system that helps bind the soil.
    • The foliage of the Oso berry plant can be used in creating natural potpourris or sachets, adding fragrance to indoor spaces.
    • Indigenous peoples have historically used the flexible stems of the Oso berry for traditional basket weaving and crafting.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Indian plum is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Indian plum is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Early Bloom: As one of the first plants to bloom in spring, Oemleria cerasiformis, commonly known as the Indian plum, symbolizes new beginnings and the awakening of life after winter.
    • Renewal: Its early flowers are often seen as a sign of renewal and rejuvenation, suggesting the cycle of growth and rebirth.
    • Hope: The appearance of its delicate white flowers at the end of winter brings hope, signifying that warmer days and brighter times are ahead.
    • Purity: The white color of Indian plum flowers is traditionally associated with purity and innocence.
    • Simplicity: The Indian plum's simple and unassuming presence in the forest understory can represent an appreciation for the uncomplicated aspects of life.

Every 1-2 weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring-Early Summer
Not needed
  • water dropWater

    For the Indian plum, watering should adequately moisten the soil but should not leave it waterlogged. During the growing season, water once a week or when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Provide around 1-2 gallons per watering to ensure the root zone is thoroughly moistened. Watering frequency should be reduced during fall and further in winter, matching the decrease in the plant's growth activity. It's typically not necessary to water established plants during rainy periods due to their moderate drought tolerance.

  • sunLight

    Indian plum thrives in full sun to partial shade conditions. The ideal spot for this plant would receive at least four to six hours of direct sunlight daily, with some relief from the intense afternoon sun, especially in hotter climates. Dappled shade is also suitable, as this mimics the plant's natural understory habitat.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Indian plum does well in a range of temperatures and is hardy to the United States Department of Agriculture zone 5. It can tolerate minimum winter temperatures down to about -20 degrees Fahrenheit and is comfortable with summer temperatures that typically do not exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal temperature for promoting lush growth and fruiting is between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning Indian plum is beneficial for maintaining its shape and promoting healthy growth. Prune in late winter or early spring before new growth starts, removing any dead, diseased, or crossing branches. Thinning out dense areas also allows light and air to reach the inner parts of the plant. Typically, a light annual pruning is sufficient.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    The Indian plum, or Osmaronia cerasiformis, prefers a soil mix that is rich in organic matter, with good drainage. A loamy soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5 is ideal for promoting healthy growth. To create the best soil mix, combine garden soil, compost, and coarse sand or perlite to ensure it remains well-aerated and moist without becoming waterlogged.

  • plantRepotting

    Indian plum does not typically require frequent repotting. As a shrub that can grow quite large, it’s often planted directly into the ground where it has space to spread. If grown in a container, repotting every 2 to 4 years should suffice, ensuring that the root system has room to expand and refresh the nutrient availability of the soil.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Indian plum thrives in moderate to high humidity levels, similar to its native Pacific Northwest environment. It can tolerate a range of humidity conditions outdoors but, indoors, maintaining a level of 40-60% humidity will support its growth and foliage health.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Provide bright, indirect light and room to grow.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in partial shade, mulch well, shelter from strong winds.

    • Hardiness zone

      7-9 USDA.

  • circleLife cycle

    Oemleria cerasiformis, more commonly known as Indian plum or osoberry, begins its life cycle with a seed germination stage, which typically occurs in moist soils during the spring. After germination, seedlings emerge and establish a root system, progressing to a vegetative growth phase characterized by the development of simple, alternate leaves on thin stems. As the plant matures, it enters a reproductive phase, usually in early spring, producing small white flowers that are among the first to bloom in the season. Pollination by insects facilitates the development of the plant's fruit, small plums that ripen to a dark blue or purple by late summer. These fruits are consumed by birds and other wildlife, which contributes to seed dispersal. Finally, the plant enters a period of dormancy in the winter, with leaves dropping, conserving energy to complete the cycle again the following spring.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • Oemleria cerasiformis, commonly known as Indian plum or osoberry, is typically propagated from seed. The most popular method to propagate this plant is by sowing the seeds, which involves collecting ripe berries in late spring or early summer and separating the seeds from the pulp. Cleaned seeds should be stratified for several months at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 4.4 degrees Celsius) to break dormancy, and after stratification, they can be sown in a prepared bed or pots with well-draining soil mix. The seeds usually germinate in the following spring when temperatures warm, although germination rates can be variable and patience is often required. Once seedlings are large enough to handle, they can be transplanted into individual containers or directly into the garden.