- Common Name(s):
- Black cherry, Wild Cherry, Wild rum cherry
- Spring Sparkle
- Native Plants, Poisonous Plants, Trees
Prunus serotina, commonly called black cherry, wild cherry or wild rum cherry, is native to eastern North America, Mexico, and Central America. It is one of the largest of the cherries, typically growing to 50-80’ (less frequently to 100’) tall with a narrow-columnar to rounded crown. It is perhaps most noted for its profuse spring bloom, attractive summer foliage, and fall color. It tends to be a messy tree, best used along the edges of woods. This tree is frequently damaged by deer.
The bark of mature trees develops a dark scaly or flaky pattern. Bark, roots, and leaves contain concentrations of toxic cyanogenic compounds, hence the noticeable bitter almond aroma of the inner bark.
The hard, reddish-brown wood takes a fine polish and is commercially valued for use in a large number of products such as furniture, veneers, cabinets, interior paneling, gun stocks, instrument/tool handles and musical instruments.
Regions: Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains
Seasons of Interest:
Bloom: Spring Fruit/Seed/Nut: Late Summer
Wildlife Value: The Black cherry tree is a host plant for Coral Hairstreak, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Red-Spotted Purple, Spring Azure and Viceroy butterflies. Adult butterflies nectar from the spring flowers. Fruits are eaten by songbirds, wild turkeys, quail, white-tailed deer and small mammals.
Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: As with most cherries, the black cherry tree it is susceptible to a large number of insect and disease pests. Potential diseases include leaf spot, die back, leaf curl, powdery mildew, root rot, and fireblight. Potential insects include aphids, scale, borers, leafhoppers, caterpillars, tent caterpillars and Japanese beetles. Spider mites may also be trouble.
- 50-80 feet
- The Black Cherry has fragrant white flowers in slender pendulous clusters (racemes to 6” long) which appear with the foliage in spring (late April-May). The flowers are followed by drooping clusters of small red cherries (to 3/8” diameter) that ripen in late summer to dark purple-black. The fruits are bitter and inedible fresh off the tree but can be used to make jams and jellies. Fruits have also been used to flavor certain liquors such as brandy and whiskey.
- The Black Cherry is easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. It does best in moist, fertile loams in full sun. The young trees develop a long tap root which makes transplanting difficult.
- Pyramidal to conical; becomes oval with pendulous branches
- Sun; range of soil types
- White flowers in early spring; small juicy reddish black edible berries in summer that attract birds
- USA, NC
- Poison Part:
- Wilted leaves, twigs (stems), seeds
- Poison Delivery Mode:
- Gasping, weakness, excitement, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, coma, respiratory failure
- EDIBLE PARTS: Pitted fruits are eaten raw or made into jelly when combined with apples, or jell alone with added pectin. Sauces, pies, and flavorings are also made from these cherries.
- Toxic Principle:
- Cyanogenic glycoside, amygdalin
- HIGHLY TOXIC, MAY BE FATAL IF EATEN!
- Found in:
- Deciduous forest or natural area, maritime forest; weedy in disturbed areas, roadsides, fields, fencerows; in landscape as shade tree
- 30-60 feet
- Growth Rate:
- The leaves (2 to 5 inches) and twigs have a cherry fragrance and bitter taste. The leaves are alternate with a finely toothed margin, inconspicuous glands on the stem and yellow-brown pubescence on the underside of the leaf.
NCCES plant id: 524