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PRUNUS serotina

Image of Prunus serotina

Jesse Saylor

Family

Rosaceae

Botanical Name

PRUNUS serotina

Plant Common Name

Black Cherry

General Description

The largest of the cherries, this fast-growing, medium to large deciduous tree is valued not only for its ornamental attributes but also as a timber tree. It is native from central and eastern North America to Guatemala.

The tapered, oval, saw-edged leaves are glossy dark green above and paler underneath. New leaves are often bronze-tinged, and fall color is typically bright yellow. In mid to late spring, upright to horizontal, cylindrical clusters of white five-petaled flowers adorn the branches, attracting bees and butterflies. The clusters droop under the weight of the spherical, pea-sized fruits that follow. The fruits - which contain a one-seeded "stone" - ripen from red to blue-black in late summer. The sweet, edible ripe fruits are quickly harvested by birds. Self-sowing is common. This cherry grows relatively rapidly into a narrow-headed, horizontally branched tree, with red-brown bark that eventually becomes fissured and scaly.

Often found on fertile, moist, well-drained soil in the wild, this sun-loving tree also succeeds in dry sites. It is relatively salt-tolerant. Use it as a large shade tree for meadows, lawns, parks, or other sites where its many seedlings are not bothersome or can be mowed down. Among the few named selections is 'White Sparkle,' with slightly drooping branches, abundant flowers, and good fall foliage color.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 9

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    50'-90' / 15.2m - 27.4m (60)

  • Width

    25'-50' / 7.6m - 15.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, South-Central United States, Texas, Canada, Central America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White

  • Fruit Color

    Dark Red, Dark Blue, Black

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow, Orange

  • Bark Color

    Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Platy

  • Usage

    Edible, Feature Plant, Shade Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes