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Prunus serotina

This plant has poison characteristics. See below.
Common Name(s):
Black cherry, Wild Cherry, Wild rum cherry
Cultivar(s):
Spring Sparkle
Categories:
Native Plants, Poisonous Plants, Trees
Comment:

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.

Height:
50-80 feet
Flower:
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.
Zones:
2-8
Habit:
Deciduous
Site:
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.
Texture:
Medium
Form:
Pyramidal to conical; becomes oval with pendulous branches
Exposure:
Sun; range of soil types
Fruit:
White flowers in early spring; small juicy reddish black edible berries in summer that attract birds
Family:
Rosaceae
Origin:
USA, NC
Distribution:
Throughout
Poison Part:
Wilted leaves, twigs (stems), seeds
Poison Delivery Mode:
Ingestion
Symptoms:
Gasping, weakness, excitement, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, coma, respiratory failure
Edibility:
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
Severity:
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
Width:
30-60 feet
Growth Rate:
Rapid
Leaf:
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.
Tags:
flowering tree, deciduous, fall color, birds, fragrant, shade tree, butterflies, showy

NCCES plant id: 524

Prunus serotina Prunus serotina
Andreas Rockstein, CC BY-SA - 4.0
Prunus serotina Prunus serotina
Chris Moody, CC BY-NC - 4.0
Prunus serotina Prunus serotina
Prunus serotina Prunus serotina
Prunus serotina Prunus serotina
Prunus serotina Prunus serotina
Chris Moody, CC BY-NC - 4.0
Prunus serotina Prunus serotina
JanetandPhil, CC BY-NC-ND - 4.0
Prunus serotina Prunus serotina
KM, CC BY - 4.0
Prunus serotina Prunus serotina
Lee Anne McConnaughey, CC BY-SA - 4.0
Prunus serotina Prunus serotina
Janet and Phil, CC BY-NC-ND - 4.0