Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Wild Black Cherry
Give a thumbs up Black Cherry
Give a thumbs up Wild Cherry
Give a thumbs up Rum cherry
Give a thumbs up Mountain Black Cherry

Botanical names:
Prunus serotina Accepted
Padus virginiana Synonym
Padus serotina Synonym

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Tree
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Water Preferences: Mesic
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 4a -34.4 °C (-30 °F) to -31.7 °C (-25 °F)
Plant Height: 40 - 60 feet
Plant Spread: 30 - 40 feet
Leaves: Deciduous
Fruit: Edible to birds
Flowers: Showy
Fragrant
Flower Color: White
Flower Time: Late winter or early spring
Spring
Uses: Shade Tree
Flowering Tree
Will Naturalize
Edible Parts: Fruit
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Birds
Butterflies
Toxicity: Leaves are poisonous
Other: Inner bark is also poisonous
Propagation: Seeds: Stratify seeds: seeds require 3-4 months of chilling before they will germinate
Sow in situ
Propagation: Other methods: Cuttings: Stem
Cuttings: Tip
Other: cuttings should be taken in spring
Pollinators: Various insects
Containers: Not suitable for containers

Unripe fruit

Day Two at the AHS Region 1 Annual MeetingDay Two at the AHS Region 1 Annual Meeting
August 10, 2015

This article is a continuation of the diary I kept at my first official daylily meeting.

(Full article5 comments)
Give a thumbs up

This plant is tagged in:
Image Image Image

Comments:
Posted by flaflwrgrl (North Fl. - Zone 8b) on Nov 15, 2011 6:50 PM

This cherry is native to eastern North America & ranges from from eastern Canada through southern Quebec and Ontario; south through the eastern United States to central Florida & Texas with fragmented populations in Arizona and New Mexico; and in the mountains of Mexico and Guatemala.
A mature black cherry can easily be identified by its very broken, dark grey to black bark, which resembles very thick, burnt potato chips. But, for about the first 10 years of its life, the bark looks stunningly like a birch. It can also quickly be identified by its long, shiny leaves looking like those of a sourwood, and by an almond-like odor when a young twig is scratched and held close to the nose as well as a cherry soda like odor when the leaves are crushed.
The timber is valuable, perhaps the premier cabinetry timber of the U.S., traded as "cherry". It is known for its strong red color and high price.
The fruit is a 1 cm drupe, green to red at first, then ripening to black; it is rather astringent and bitter when eaten fresh, but also somewhat sweet. The fruit is loved by birds, deer & foxes. The fruit is used for making jam, cherry pies and has some use in flavoring liqueurs; it is also a flavoring for sodas and is used in many ice creams. The black cherry is commonly used instead of sweet cherries (Prunus avium) to result in a sharper taste. It is also used in cakes which include dark chocolate, such as a Black Forest cake.
The foliage, particularly when wilted, contains cyanogenic glycosides, which convert to hydrogen cyanide if eaten by animals. Farmers should remove any trees that fall in a field with livestock, because the wilted leaves could poison the animals. Removal is not always practical though, because they often grow in very large numbers on farms, taking advantage of the light brought about by mowing and grazing. Whole fencerows can be lined with this tree, making it difficult to clean up all the branches falling into the area. In the spring of 2001 hundreds of thoroughbred horse foals where mysteriously miscarried or stillborn. The problem was traced to Eastern Tent Caterpillars that had fed on the many black cherry trees in the Lexington, Kentucky horse farm region. The caterpillars concentrated the toxic cyanide compounds present in black cherry foliage. Their feces contaminated the pastures and was ingested by the grazing mares. A spokesman for the University of Kentucky Agriculture Department reports: "The unusual weather pattern could have caused the cyanide levels in the trees to be higher..." The university recommends that horse breeders restrict access to pastures when caterpillar populations are high.

This is also a host plant of the Red Spotted Purple Butterfly.

[ Reply to this comment | Give a thumbs up ]

Posted by mellielong (Lutz, Florida - Zone 9b) on Dec 28, 2014 12:51 PM

When getting rid of our palm trees, I wanted to plant something native. As a butterfly gardener, I felt that it also had to be a host plant. Therefore, I purchased a Black Cherry from the Florida Native Plant Society at one of the USF Botanical Garden sales. The tree was about five to six feet tall when I purchased it. Roughly seven years later, I would guess it at forty feet tall. So it's a pretty fast grower if you're looking for that. Mine has split into two main trunks, but it is growing very straight. Even though I live in central Florida, this tree does lose its leaves in the winter but quickly sprouts in the spring.

My dad is a woodturner and this is a very prized wood. His friends often like to look at my tree so they can identify others correctly when they encounter them. In this area it is probably easiest to confuse it with the Cherry Laurel, but that tree has far more serrated leaves than the Black Cherry.

The true test for me was when the Red-Spotted Purple butterfly laid its eggs on the leaves. I'm right on the border of their southern boundary and rarely see this butterfly. They prefer rotting fruit to flowers, so they will not nectar in my yard. The only way I see them is to find their host plants. When the tree was small, I gathered the caterpillars and raised them inside. Now, the tree is so tall that I only see the butterflies circling the top of it, particularly in the spring. Still, I feel it is a good plant if you want to attract and support wildlife. You may have to view it from afar, but it is effective.

[ Reply to this comment | Give a thumbs up ]

Posted by plantladylin (Southeast Florida - Zone 10a) on Sep 11, 2011 1:15 PM

We have a few Black Cherry trees around our property and neighborhood. They are pretty when in bloom and lots of birds enjoy the berries.

[ Reply to this comment | Give a thumbs up ]

Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Dec 15, 2017 7:49 PM

Wild Black Cherry is a common tree in much of the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic, usually a pioneer tree in open fields and meadows and along forest borders. It has a large native range from Nova Scotia and New England down to central Florida into east Texas up to central Minnesota through all Wisconsin and Michigan into far southeast Ontario & Quebec. It grows about 1.5 to 2.5 feet/year and lives about 150 to 200 years. It has pretty foliage, good golden fall color, white clusters of pyramidal flower clusters in spring, and handsome scaly bark of brown-gray to red-brown to blackish. Its small black cherries are loved by songbirds and small mammals. It is a host tree to many beneficial insect species. Some large, diverse nurseries used to sell it in the 1970's I remember, but because it develops a taproot and can be difficult to transplant, they may have given up. A good number of native plant nurseries sell it in big pots.

[ Reply to this comment | Give a thumbs up ]

Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Note the differing wood of the trunks by flaflwrgrl Nov 16, 2011 11:54 AM 0
Tree with red berries in my yard? by debeehr Jul 12, 2018 8:07 AM 6
Wild 10' shrub, white flowers, blooming right now by dave Apr 1, 2018 3:28 PM 12
Help please * by flaflwrgrl Mar 2, 2018 12:34 PM 6
Need help IDing this shrub (or tree)-Any ideas? by Archivesgirl Aug 27, 2017 6:58 PM 7
What is this fern (outdoors)? by Archivesgirl Aug 28, 2017 10:37 PM 11
August 2017 Butterflies, Moths & Larva by jmorth Sep 3, 2017 1:23 AM 300
Plant ID. Poison Sumac? by Rachelfaith05 Jun 1, 2017 8:58 AM 9
What th...????? by joannakat Oct 28, 2018 12:04 AM 25
What kind of tree is this by Rkempston May 13, 2017 1:02 AM 5
Any variegated Black Cherry trees? by keithp2012 May 6, 2017 6:11 PM 1

« Add a new plant to the database

« The Plants Database Front Page

Today's site banner is by greenappleagnes and is called "Orlaya White Lace"