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Kansas: What Is Your State Fruit?

“Bees dig plum blossoms.” - Charles Olson


State of Kansas

Overview

Driving along I-70 from Colorado through Kansas, farmland stretches across the horizon. Green pastures and fields as far as the eye can see. Once you step off the highways of Kansas, heading down the secondary and frontage roads, lie some bushy trees acting as a windbreak for the Kansas Plains and a food source for area wildlife. Not to mention, the Dust Bowl of 1935 spawned a need for stabilizing soil. On April 12, 2020, Kansas designated the Sandhill Plum as their state fruit. Other fruits considered were the American Persimmon, the gooseberry, and the red mulberry.



Sandhill Plums


The Sandhill Plum

The taxonomy of the Sandhill Plum (Prunus Americana) is native to Kansas and Oklahoma, growing naturally in sand loam but can perform well in clay loam soils. The 3-4 foot bushy tree is usually disease and insect-tolerant and holds, and new sprouts will replace injured stems. Birds use the foliage for nesting sites in shrubby areas. The fruit ripens into a robust and fruity apricot flavor. The blossoms are gorgeous white elongated flowers with yellow stamen. Beware, the fruit grows small and takes time to ripen because they are too tart for fresh eating. However, they make excellent jams, jellies, sauces, and wild plum pies with whipped cream.



Sandhill Plums

Sandhill Plum Foragers

Most Kansas natives grew up foraging with their families, whether at berry farms or pastures hunting for Sandhill Plums. Foraging during the Month of August is a culture in Kansas. Some stories are reminiscent of picking Sandhill Plums for syrup making, standing around the 4-foot bushes with a bucket tethered around their necks to hold their take. Others gather small communities each summer, planning to harvest and forage as many pounds of Sandhill Plums to make jams and jellies for the winter collectively.



Wrapping It Up!

When thinking about my state fruit, I jump on Pinterest to source new recipes in the spirit of next year's harvest. Cheers!




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