Black Cherry, Prunus serotina

Black Cherry

Prunus serotina

Benefits:
Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Early Summer
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Loam
Soil Moisture: Medium
Color: White
Fragrance: No
Height: 50-80 feet
Spacing: 30-60 feet


Description

Black Cherry, Prunus serotina, also called Wild Cherry or Wild Rum Cherry, typically occurs in both lowland and upland woods and along streams. It is one of the largest of the cherries, typically growing to 50-80’ tall with a narrow-columnar to rounded crown. Narrow oblong-ovate to lanceolate, glossy green leaves (to 5” long) have acuminate tips and serrate margins. Foliage turns attractive shades of yellow and rose in fall. Mature trees develop dark scaly bark. Bark, roots and leaves contain concentrations of toxic cyanogenic compounds, hence the noticeable bitter almond aroma of the inner bark.

It is noted for its profuse spring bloom, attractive summer foliage and fall color. Fragrant white flowers in slender pendulous clusters (racemes to 6” long) appear with the foliage in spring (late April-May). Flowers are followed by drooping clusters of small red cherries (to 3/8” diameter) that ripen in late summer to dark purple-black. Fruits are bitter and inedible fresh off the tree, but can be used to make jams and jellies. Fruits have also been used to flavor certain liquors such as brandy and whiskey. Fruits are attractive to wildlife.

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in moist, fertile loams in full sun. Young trees develop a long tap root which makes transplanting difficult.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Native Americans prepared decoctions of the inner bark for cough medicines and tea-like cold remedies.
  Hard, reddish-brown wood takes a fine polish and is commercially valued for use in a large number of products such as furniture, veneers, cabinets, interior paneling, gun stocks, instrument/tool handles and musical instruments.
  The fruit of Black Cherry is an important source of food to many upland gamebirds and songbirds.
Further Information

Wisconsin Fruit Trees
Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs
Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
8 Dandelion Recipes
Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries