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Prunus pensylvanica

Common Name(s):

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

Fire Cherry is a deciduous tree that may grow 20 to 30 feet tall. The leaves are alternate with a finely toothed margin. The bark is red-brown with long horizontal lenticels. In spring, small, white flowers mature in clusters. The small tree produces a red drupe that matures in late summer. Fruit is very sour to the taste.

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.

Seasons of Interest: 

  Blooms:  Spring            Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Late summer/fall

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  This plant is very susceptible to damage from deer and does not tolerate shade. 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.

 

Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Jumping Pond'
  • 'Stockton'
Tags:
#fragrant#fruit#showy flowers#deciduous#fall color#small tree#songbirds#wildlife plant#showy#native tree#nectar plant#host plant#host#food source#low flammability#NC native#deer damage#fire resistant#food source summer#food source fall#butterfly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Jumping Pond'
  • 'Stockton'
Tags:
#fragrant#fruit#showy flowers#deciduous#fall color#small tree#songbirds#wildlife plant#showy#native tree#nectar plant#host plant#host#food source#low flammability#NC native#deer damage#fire resistant#food source summer#food source fall#butterfly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Prunus
    Species:
    pensylvanica
    Family:
    Roseaceae
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    United States and Canada
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    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.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    fire in the landscape.
    Edibility:
    EDIBLE PARTS: Fruits are used for jelly or syrup. Boil down in small amount of water, strain, and add sugar to taste.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Horizontal
    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 Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Description:
    Drupe with a large stone in the center light red flesh. Displays in late summer and fall.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    3 to 4.5 in. alternate, simple leaves; maroon, red, or orange fall color
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Horizontal lenticles
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Pollinator Garden
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Fire
    Problems:
    Frequent Disease Problems
    Frequent Insect Problems
    Messy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Medium
    Poison Symptoms:
    Leaves are poisonous to livestock
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    N/ACyanogenic glycoside, amygdalin
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Leaves