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Prunus serotina

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Plant types and subtypes: Trees & Shrubs, Trees, Deciduous

Light Requirements: sun, part-sun, part-shade

Water Use: medium

Soil Moisture: moist

Soil Description: acid, neutral, rich, average, loam, clay, sand

Height: 25'-50'

Bloom Time: March, April, May, June, July

Bloom Color: white

Leaf Color: green

Hardiness Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Additional Tags: attracts bees, attracts birds, berries, colonizing, edible, fall interest, fragrant flowers, naturalizing, shade tree, showy fruit

Prunus serotina (black cherry)
  • Prunus serotina (black cherry)
  • Prunus serotina (black cherry)
  • Prunus serotina (black cherry)
  • Prunus serotina (black cherry)

Pricing & Availability

Description

Prunus serotina

Also known as:

black cherry

,

wild cherry

,

wild black cherry

,

mountain black cherry

,

rum cherry

Scientific Synonyms:

0

Description

The form of Prunus serotina is highly variable due to its broad native range and regional variations. In the southwest, trees might not exceed a height of 25' and remain shrubby, whereas they will easily top 100' in moist, rich areas of the northern, northeastern, and mid-Atlantic states. It is the tallest of the cherry trees native to the US, with 120' tall specimens having been observed. Young trees will be compact and pyramidal, stretching upward and becoming more oval and elongated with drooping limbs as they mature. The leaves can grow to 5", which is rather large for a cherry, are glossy, finely serrated, and produce good fall colors in shades of yellow, orange and light-red. Trees will bloom abundantly with very showy, white, fragrant flowers that form pendulous clusters up to 10" long. These are followed by clusters of small, 3/8 of an inch berry-like fruit (drupes), that turn deep shades of purple to black as they mature, for which the tree gets the common name "black cherry". The bark on mature trunks is distinctive, scaly, and brownish-gray.

Cultivation

Black cherry is very easy to grow and adaptable to a wide range of soil types and moisture levels. It forms a deep taproot which makes trees resistant to dry conditions, yet it also does well along streams and water margins. It is shade intolerant, and will produce a thin, tall trunk if grown in part-shade. It is best grown as a specimen in full sun where it will develop into an attractive and effective shade tree. Do not use around driveways, unless they're only used for black cars, because the fruit can stain car paint. Flowering times are highly variable: March through April in the south and southwest, May through July in the north and mid-Atlantic. Fruit will take 2 to 3 months to develop and ripen after flowering. Zones 4-9

Propagation

Can be propagated by softwood, semi-hardwood, hardwood, and root cuttings. Can also be propagated from seed. In the wild, seeds will take up to 3 years to germinate after falling. Saplings grow rapidly after germination, and are quick to develop a taproot, therefore they are difficult to transplant and should be placed in a permanent location as soon as possible. It seems that germination rates are increased, and germination times are reduced, when the seeds have passed through the digestive tract of birds. Because of this, tree populations can easily spread under ideal conditions. They have even become invasive in certain parts of Europe, where they were introduced as far back as the early 1600's.

Additional Notes

The wood of the black cherry, is dense, fine-grained, reddish, and one of the most valued for furniture making and veneers. The fruit are edible and delicious raw, but their small size make them impractical to eat. They can be made into jams and jellies, fermented into wine, or used to flavor juices and liquors such as rum, hence the common name "rum cherry". As with other cherry trees, except for the fruit, all parts of the plant, including the stones, should be considered toxic. The leaves are susceptible to diseases and pests that commonly afflict other fruit trees.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:
AL, AR, AZ, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV

Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Subclass Rosidae
Order Rosales
Family Rosaceae Rose family
Genus Prunus plum
Species Prunus serotina black cherry