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PRUNUS cerasus

Image of Prunus cerasus

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Rosaceae

Botanical Name

PRUNUS cerasus

Plant Common Name

Pie Cherry, Sour Cherry, Tart Cherry

General Description

Grown since antiquity for its tart fruit, sour cherry is a small deciduous tree known only in cultivation. It probably originated in eastern Europe or western Asia from a hybrid between sweet cherry, Prunus avium, and ground cherry, Prunus fruticosa.

The shiny, dark green, oval leaves of this hardy tree have toothed edges and a pointed tip. They flush in early to mid-spring, just as the abundant cupped, white, five-petaled flowers open. Spherical, long-stemmed fruits follow the flowers, ripening in late spring or early summer. Morello-type sour cherries (including 'Northstar') bear dark red, acidic fruits best suited for cooking and preserving. Paler, sweeter-fleshed Amarelle cherries (such as 'Montmorency') are good for cooking or eating fresh. Trees are self-fertile, fruiting without cross-pollination. For optimal production they require 1000 to 1500 hours per winter of temperatures of a few degrees above freezing.

This small, round-headed tree has spreading, dark-barked limbs, and often suckers liberally when planted on its own roots. Trees are usually propagated by grafting onto Prunus mahaleb understock.

Sour cherry prospers in full sun and evenly moist, well-drained soil, but will accept partial shade. Do not plant it where its flowers are likely to be damaged by late freezes and frosts. Its self-fruitfulness and relatively small size it make it an excellent choice for home gardens.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17

  • Plant Type

    Fruit

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    10'-20' / 3.0m - 6.1m

  • Width

    10'-20' / 3.0m - 6.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring

  • Native To

    Hybrid Origin

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White

  • Fruit Color

    Red, Dark Red

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single, Double

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Edible, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No