General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Tree
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Water Preferences: Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 3 -40 °C (-40 °F) to -37.2 °C (-35)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 9b
Plant Height: 40 - 60 feet
Plant Spread: 30 - 40 feet
Leaves: Good fall color
Fruit: Edible to birds
Fruiting Time: Late summer or early fall
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: White
Flower Time: Late spring or early summer
Underground structures: Taproot
Uses: Shade Tree
Flowering Tree
Will Naturalize
Edible Parts: Fruit
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Resistances: Drought tolerant
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
Miscellaneous: Tolerates poor soil
Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation status:
Conservation status: Least Concern
Common names
  • Wild Black Cherry
  • Black Cherry
  • Wild Cherry
  • Rum cherry
  • Mountain Black Cherry
Botanical names
  • Accepted: Prunus serotina
  • Synonym: Padus serotina
  • Synonym: Padus virginiana

Photo Gallery
Location: Southern Pines, NC (SW Broad)
Date: March 26, 2023
Carolina laurel cherry # 403; RAB p. 569, 97-22-11; LHB p. 545, 9
Location: Illinois, US
Date: 2019-08-03
Location: Aberdeen, NC
Date: March 15,  2022
Carolina laurel cherry # 403; RAB p. 569, 97-22-11; LHB p. 545, 9
Location: Hockenheim, Germany
Date: 08/21/2016
photo by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr:
Location: Hidden Lake Gardens, Tipton, Michigan
Date: 2020-10-28
I was able to confirm for myself the ID of these leaves by tracin
Location: Hidden Lake Gardens, Tipton, Michigan
Date: 2020-10-28
There are fine serrations along the leaf margins, which are only
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
Date: June 21, 2010
Location: zone 8 North Central, Fl.
Date: 2017-11-24
Location: Brownstown PA 17508
Date: 2020-05-21
Location: Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Ann Arbor
Date: 2017-03-15
Black cherry tree blocking the sun.  This grand old specimen look
Location: Daytona Beahc, Florida - my backyard
Date: April 18, 2011
Blooms of Black Cherry Tree
Location: Northeastern, Texas
Date: 2015-04-11
Unripe fruit
Location: central Maryland
Date: 2008-05-01
a large tree in spring
Location: Northeastern, Texas
Date: 2015-03-31
Location: Fairfax, VA | September 2022

Date: July 17, 2011
Leaves & Fruit

Date: July 17. 2011
Close up of drupes/fruit
Location: Lutz, FL
Date: 2016-05-31
Location: Northeastern, Texas
Date: 2014-03-26
New growth in spring - one of the first trees to leaf out around
Location: southeast Pennsylvania
Date: 2015-05-13
a mature tree in bloom
Location: southeast Pennsylvania
Date: 2010-09-03
mature tree in the wild
Location: southeast Pennsylvania
Date: 2015-01-05
full-grown tree in winter
Location: southeast Pennsylvania
Date: 2015-05-13
flower clusters and spring leaves
Location: southeast Pennsylvania
Date: 2014-08-17
the fruit

credit: Rasbak
Location: central Maryland
Date: 2008-05-01
mature trunks
Location: Lutz, FL
Date: 2015-08-20
Leafed out unlike my winter picture.
Location: Hollis, New Hampshire
Date: August 11, 2013
Location: my garden in Dawsonville, GA (north Geogia mountains)
Date: 2021-12-06
bark on trunk of wild tree, approx 25 years old
Uploaded by flaflwrgrl

Date: c. 1865
illustration by Bessa from Michaux's 'The North American Sylva',

Date: May 26, 2011
Bark of Black Cherry Tree

Date: May 23, 2011

Date: July 27, 2011

Date: May 26, 2011
Close up of leaves of Black Cherry Tree

Date: April 3, 2011
Location: zone 8 North Central, Fl.
Date: 2017-12-23
Uploaded by flaflwrgrl
Location: Warrenville, Illinois
Date: October in 1980's
mature tree in golden fall color
Location: Thorndale, Pennsylvania
Date: 2010-08-28
mature tree in front of bank
Location: Warrenville, Illinois
Date: October in 1980's
portion of trunk
Location: Warrenville, Illinois
Date: October in 1980's
autumn leaves
Location: Lutz, FL
Date: 2014-12-28
Even in central Florida, black cherry trees lose their leaves eac
Location: Lutz, FL
Date: 2014-12-28
Bark on a tree that's about seven years old.
Location: Lutz, FL
Date: 2014-12-28
My tree has two main trunks.  It split about four feet from the g
Location: Hollis, New Hampshire
Date: August 11, 2013
Uploaded by flaflwrgrl
Uploaded by flaflwrgrl
Location: Mississippi
Date: 2014-04-01
Location: zone 8 Lake City, Fl.
Date: 2012-03-14
Location: Aberdeen, NC
Date: January 1, 2022
Carolina laurel cherry # 403; RAB p. 569, 97-22-11; LHB p. 545, 9
This plant is tagged in:
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  • Posted by flaflwrgrl (North Fl. - Zone 8b) on Nov 15, 2011 6:50 PM concerning plant:
    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.
  • Posted by mellielong (Lutz, Florida - Zone 9b) on Dec 28, 2014 12:51 PM concerning plant:
    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.
  • Posted by plantladylin (Sebastian, Florida - Zone 10a) on Sep 11, 2011 1:15 PM concerning plant:
    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.
  • Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Dec 15, 2017 7:49 PM concerning plant:
    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.
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Discussion Threads about this plant
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Note the differing wood of the trunks by flaflwrgrl Nov 16, 2011 11:54 AM 0

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