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Prunus pensylvanica

Phonetic Spelling
PROO-nus pen-sill-VAN-ee-kah
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Fire Cherry is a deciduous tree that is native to much of Canada and south to Georgia in the Appalachian mountains. In NC it is found in the mountains only. It grows in dry to moist clearings, open woods, woodland edges and disturbed sites. Its seeds sprout easily after a fire and can lay dormant for many years. In fact, it has its common name, Fire Cherry, due to its value as a reforesting agent after fires. It has another common name, Bird Cherry, that comes from the fact that birds use the fruits of this plant for food. It is a small narrow tree to shrub in form and may reach heights of 30 feet or more. This tree is generally short-lived to around 20-40 years but is a high-value wildlife tree. It grows rapidly and has a shallow root system. The wood is not used commercially. This plant forms stands that provide shade for seedlings of plants with a slower growth rate. This plant will then die off, making room for the seedlings to grow.

Fire Cherry prefers well-drained, moist soils in full sun. It is very intolerant of shade. The clusters of white flowers in spring are showy as are the red drupes in summer and fall. The bark is also attractive with horizontal lenticels and may also peel in strips.

Fire Cherry Prefers cooler summers and would not do well in hot humid climates. It can be used in naturalized areas, meadows or open woodland sites.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  The most common leaf disease is cherry leaf spot. Powdery mildew and rust can be a problem. The most widespread and commonly observed disease of pin cherry is black knot. Insects that attack pin cherry are leaf feeders, eastern tent caterpillar, fall cankerworm, and a web-spinning sawfly.

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Jumping Pond'
  • 'Stockton'
'Jumping Pond', 'Stockton'
Tags:
#fragrant#showy flowers#deciduous#fall color#small tree#wildlife plant#showy#native tree#nectar plant#food source#low flammability#NC native#deer browsing plant#fire resistant#larval host plant#food source summer#food source fall#fruits#bird friendly#nectar plant late spring#butterfly friendly#nectar plant mid-spring#problem for cats#pollinator garden#problem for dogs#problem for horses#eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Jumping Pond'
  • 'Stockton'
'Jumping Pond', 'Stockton'
Tags:
#fragrant#showy flowers#deciduous#fall color#small tree#wildlife plant#showy#native tree#nectar plant#food source#low flammability#NC native#deer browsing plant#fire resistant#larval host plant#food source summer#food source fall#fruits#bird friendly#nectar plant late spring#butterfly friendly#nectar plant mid-spring#problem for cats#pollinator garden#problem for dogs#problem for horses#eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Prunus
    Species:
    pensylvanica
    Family:
    Roseaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Parts of the tree has been used medicinally
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    United States and Canada
    Distribution:
    USA: CO , CT , GA , IA , IL , IN , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MT , NC , ND , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SD , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV , WY Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC , SK
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    It is a host plant for the Coral Hairstreak, Red-Spotted Purple, Spring Azure, and Viceroy butterflies.  Adult butterflies nectar from the spring flowers. This is a also larval host plant to Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). You may see three flights from February-November in the deep south and two flights from May-September in the north.Its fruits are eaten by songbirds, small mammals and bears.  Ruffed grouse eat the buds.  Foilage and twigs are browsed by white-tailed deer and moose.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    fire in the landscape.
    Edibility:
    Fruits can be used for jelly or syrup. Sour off the tree.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Open
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    1/ 4-inch red drupe with a single seed in the center in late summer and fall.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Umbel
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    1/2-inch flowers with 5 white petals and several yellow-tipped stamens in the center occur in spring. Umbrels have 3-7 flowers each and occur at branch tips and short lateral branches. Flower blooms from April to May.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are simple and alternate and oval to lance-shaped. 3 to 5 inches long and ¾ to 1½ inches wide, pointed tip, tapered or rounded base. The upper surface is dark yellow-green and shiny, the lower surface lighter and smooth or with hairs along the veins. Margins are finely serrated. Fall color is showy in reds and oranges.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Peeling
    Bark Description:
    The bark shiny reddish-brown to gray with conspicuous horizontal lenticels (pores). Bark peels in horizontal strips
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Bud Terminal:
    Cluster of terminal buds
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Twigs are red to reddish-brown, shiny smooth or occasionally sparsely hairy with a flaky, waxy cuticle.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Problems:
    Frequent Disease Problems
    Frequent Insect Problems
    Messy
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    Highly toxic, may be fatal if eaten. Symptoms include gasping, weakness, excitement, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, coma, respiratory failure.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Cyanogenic glycoside, amygdalin.
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Leaves
    Stems