- Common Name(s):
- Pin cherry, fire cherry
- Native Plants, Poisonous Plants, Shrubs, Trees
Pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) is a small common tree inhabiting a great variety of lands in the northern part of the United States and Canada. It is sometimes called fire cherry for its value as a reforesting agent after forest fires. It forms pure stands that provide shade for seedlings of slower growing species, then dies off, making way for the new trees. Another common name, bird cherry, reflects the prevalent use of the fruit by birds as food. It is also called northern pin cherry, wild red cherry, and pigeon cherry. The soft porous wood is of little commercial value.
The bark of the Pin Cherry is red-brown with with long horizontal lenticels.
Seasons of Interest:
Blooms: Spring Nut/Fruit/Seed: Late summer/fall
Wildlife Value: This plant is very susceptable to damage from deer. It is a host plant for the Coral Hairstreak, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Red-Spotted Purple, Spring Azure, and Viceroy butterflies. Adult butterflies nectar from the spring flowers. Its fruits are eaten by songbirds, small mammals and bears. Ruffed grouse eat the buds. Foilage and twigs are browsed by white-tailed deer.
Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Many diseases attack pin cherry during its short life. The most common leaf disease is cherry leaf spot, Coccomyces hiemalis, which is recognized by purplish to brown shot holes in the leaves that eventually cause yellowing of leaves and premature leaf fall. Repeated attacks reduce tree vigor. Other leaf spots on pin cherry are caused by Cercospora circumscissa, Coryneum carpophyllum, and three species of Phyllosticta. Additional pin cherry diseases are powdery mildew, Podosphaera oxyacanthae var. tridactyla; rust, Tranzschelia pruni-spinosae; and leaf curler, Taphrina cerasi.
The most widespread and commonly observed disease of pin cherry is black knot, Apiosporina morbosa. Extensive trunk rot in the East is caused by Fomes pomaceus. This decay delignifies the wood, which then becomes soft, stringy, and discolored with brown flecks and streaks.
Most of the important insects that attack pin cherry are leaf feeders, but because of the low economic value of pin cherry, they are considered unimportant. A major leaf feeder is the uglynest caterpillar, Archips cerasivoranus (Fitch) and occasionally the eastern tent caterpillar, Malacosoma americanum. Other leaf feeders are the cherry leaf beetle, Pyrrhalta cavicollis, a relative of the elm leaf beetle; Bruce spanworm, Operophtera bruceata; fall canker worm, Alsophila pometaria; and a web-spinning sawfly, Neurotoma fasciata.
- 20-30 ft.
- Pin cherry flowers from late March to early July. The flower buds are formed in August or September of the preceding year The flowers are white and broad with long pedicels. They are borne in corymbs or umbels and expand with the leaves. The globose fruits ripen from July to September, depending on locality. They are light red and have thin, acid flesh and subglobose stones. The small tree produces a red drupe that matures in late summer. The fruit is very sour to the taste.
- Pin cherry grows on infertile rocky ledges, sandy plains, moist loamy soils, and rich loams.
- USA, NC
- Poison Part:
- Wilted leaves, twigs (stems), seeds
- Poison Delivery Mode:
- Gasping, weakness, excitement, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, coma, respiratory failure
- EDIBLE PARTS: Fruits are used for jelly or syrup. Boil down in small amount of water, strain, and add sugar to taste.
- Toxic Principle:
- Cyanogenic glycoside, amygdalin
- HIGHLY TOXIC, MAY BE FATAL IF EATEN!
- Found in:
- Deciduous forest or natural area, weedy in disturbed areas
- The leaves of the Pin Cherry are alternate with a finely toothed margin.
NCCES plant id: 1137