April 2006
In our yard, this is 'Gregory's Tree'
Gregory checks for unwanted new growth.


Purple Leaf Plum Pages
Plum Journal
Growth Chart
Detailed Facts
Julie's Tree Calendar
Julie's Trees


Facts at a Glance
Prunus cerasifera - 'Thundercloud'

Planted April 21, 2001
Planting height: 8'
Planting trunk: 1.5"

2006 Update
5-yr height: 18'
5-yr trunk: 15"

Mature Height: 15 to 25'
Spread: 15 to 25'
Growth rate: Medium
Form: Rounded vase
Flowers: Pink
Fall color: No change Hardiness zone: 5 - 8
Culture: Full sun

Best feature:
purple leaves

Worst problem:
pests, messy plums

Do over? No


Gregory's Tree Gets a Visitor

NEW! Measuring the Height of Trees: The Bradleymeter

This is 'Gregory's Tree'

The Beast Is Me

Beauty or the Beast?

Julie: 1, Scales: 0

And You Thought I Was Crazy

Fat Ant Predator: This Makes Me Itch

'Scales Suck' Sounds Rude. But They Do

Tough Love: A Birthday Gift for Miss Plum

Pinch the Suckers



Blog | Julie's Trees | About | Links | Essays | Mail | Julie's Photography
A Tree Grower's Diary
Thundercloud Purple Leaf Plum


Photographs and text by Julie Walton Shaver


May 2004

.....In our yard, this tree is known as 'Gregory's Tree'


April 2005.. Gregory loves his tree
so much, he wanted a "Gregory's Tree"
tattoo. It had purple leaves earlier
in the day.


Our Arbor Day Song

Gregory and me
(and some bees)
dance around the thundercloud tree
to celebrate its life and leaves,
its cooling shade, its flowering spree.

For it's Arbor Day
and so we sing
this birthday song
we hope will bring
all the bees that never sting,
sunshine and rain,
and all good things.

Plum fills our sky with purple leaves,
sweet purple pie for buzzing bees
who blissfully fly upon the breeze
Loving as much Greg's little tree
......as little he.


April 2006.. The backyard is alive with color: purple leaf plum in pink, October Glory red maple in red, Bradford pear in white, black cherry in background nowhere near bud break.




May 14, 2006 Scales on our plum tree. Scales are little bugs that feed on the tree's sap. In fact, if you stand under the tree right now on a sunny day, you will wonder where the "rain" is coming from. It's sap dripping from the scales. Ew!


May 17, 2006
Ants are natural predators of scales. And they are fierce. They go to war over scales. They prevent other predators like wasps and lady bugs from getting anywhere near, or at least they try. This ant didn't even like me taking his picture! How do I know this? I just do. (Click the picture to see the ant UP REALLY CLOSE.)


May 26, 2006
Ladybugs are natural predators of scales, too. You GO, girl! On top of that, though, my neighbor, Elaine, is a natural predator of scales. Unlike me, she wasn't squeamish about swiping the scales away with her gloveless hands. After several swoops, she took out a large portion of the scale population. Three days later, she said her hands were still stained purple. EW!


June 6, 2006
Scales are pretty much gone.


June 6, 2006
In going back through my pictures from pruning day, May 28, I noticed this picture. Click to see it full size and you might see, at the top of the branch by the leaf, ANOTHER bug on this tree, some kind of slug worm thing with yellow stripes or spots.


What now? Treatment for scales is usually best accomplished in the dormant season. Of course, we just came out of the dormant season, so, what now? I could treat the tree with an oil spray. See links to my blog posts at left for more information.


May 24, 2006
The dripping sap is getting on everything! (Click the picture for a closer view of the sap.) These scale things are ANNOYING and UGLY!


May 28, 2006
After Elaine's swiping came the pruning to let in more sunlight and air. Scales hate that. DIE SCALES! P.S. Did I mention that scales stink? (Probably it's the rotting, dripping sap that stinks, but it wouldn't be there without the scales, so...) Blech.


May 28, 2006
The underside of a scale. Yucky. (Click the picture to see her bigger, if you've got the stomach for it. Me? I'm about to lose it just typing this.)

Sorry Gregory -- picked you out a bum tree, dude.


June 6, 2006
I don't know what those yellow spikey things are, but they might be related to that bug with the bright yellow spots. Eggs? Or they might be galls. In any case, I think I'm going to throw up now.

UPDATE: June 8, 2006
Those yellow things are ladybug eggs! And the "ugly worm" is a ladybug larvae!

Ok, Gregory, maybe this tree isn't so bad after all.


April 11, 2006 This tree sends out an abundance of undesirable shoots, called suckers. Gregory removes the ones he can reach. He also walks around the block and removes suckers from other people's trees. He's definately my child!


April 17, 2006 The web is evidence of aphids in the tree. In addition, bees are attracted to this tree, as are wasps; ants are attracted by the aphids and the fallen plums. We've got pests galore in the middle of play central! Is it too much to ask that tree tags reveal these potential problems?


April 2, 2006 On Gregory's 5-and-a-half birthday.

The goal all along was shade for a swing
that would otherwise have been in full sun all day.



Voila! May 2005

Swing canopy!

Gregory LOVES this picture,
especially in winter.


This tree has had pretty flowers, most years.


March 29, 2005 The buds are almost ready to pop.


April 2, 2006 I really like
this picture. You can see it
bigger on the fact box page.


April 15, 2005 Seventeen days later.


April 2003 The flower color varies slightly from year to year. Some years are more pink than others.
In 2004, there were hardly any flowers; the winter was long
and cold.


May 27, 2005 Bradley came down from the treehouse today holding a little round purple thingy. "Mom," he said, handing it to me. "What's this?" What I want to know is, why didn't the tree tag include something about this being a messy, bee-attracting tree?


May 27, 2005 Gregory searches to make sure the plum we found on the treehouse deck actually came from his tree.


Yep This is one of several plums we found among the branches.


May 2004 The tree weeps during a rainstorm . . .


. . . The Next Day was dry and sunny and she stood back up! (This has not always been the case. In some years, the drooping has been so bad, I had to prune the ends of the heaviest branches.)


May 19, 2006
After 5 years, the tree still droops in the rain. Time to prune.

See Julie's Purple Leaf Plum Growth Chart
For Julie's detailed comments, see the purple leaf plum fact page
Read the latest Tree Grower's Diary blog entry

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