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Osmaronia cerasiformis - Oso berry [May 6, 2016]

Oemleria cerasiformis (Oso berry)

Family: Rosaceae

Genus: Oemleria

Common names: Oso berry, Indian plum

This underutilized plant can be cultivated as either a shrub or small tree. It grows up to 12 feet tall and 8 feet wide when mature. 

It is deciduous but forms bright green leaves in early spring. It develops flowers at the same time, with cascades of small white flowers appearing as soon as February. Bloom can continue for a couple months and is followed by fruit in late spring and early summer.

One of its common names, Indian plum, comes from its fruit, which resemble small plums when ripe. Its fruit is popular with birds making it a great addition to a habitat garden.

This plant is dioecius, which means that male and female flowers bloom on different plants. You must have at least one of each before the female plants will set fruit. Both male and female plants produce flowers, although the male flowers tend to be a bit showier. Some people think the scent of the male flowers is unpleasant, while the female flowers are said to smell like watermelon.

Oso berry prefers loamy soil, but will tolerate clay. In the wild, it is usually found in moist areas, and it will grow more quickly when provided with water. It is able to handle dry conditions once established. It prefers light shade, but can tolerate full sun.

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