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Black Cherry

Scientific Name

Prunus serotina

Wildlife Value


Average height




Shade Tolerance


Drought Tolerance

Fair to Good

Growth Rate



Edible Berry

Special Characteristics

Fragrant white flowers in late Spring

Seedling Size

6" to 12"


General Description

The black cherry is commonly confused with a choke-cherry shrub. The leaves on a black cherry are long, slender and elliptical in comparison to a choke-cherry. A mature black cherry can easily be identified in a forest by its very broken, dark grey to black bark, which has the appearance of very thick, burnt potato chips. Black cherry trees can live over a hundred years. The small black edible berry matures in late summer that doesn’t last long on the tree before dropping to the ground.



The fruit is suitable for making jam, cherry pies and has some use in flavoring liqueurs; they are also a popular flavoring for sodas and used in many ice creams. The black cherry is commonly used instead of sweet cherries (Prunus avium) in order to achieve a sharper taste. The timber is valuable, perhaps the premier cabinetry timber of the U.S., traded as "cherry". It is known for its strong red color and high price. The wood is also used for cooking and smoking foods, where it imparts a unique flavor. The foliage, particularly when wilted, contains cyanogenic glycosides which convert to hydrogen cyanide if eaten by animals. It is recommended that farmers remove any black cherry trees that fall in a field containing livestock, because the wilted leaves could poison the animals. Removal is not always practical though, because black cherries often grow in very large numbers on farms, taking advantage of the light brought about by mowing and grazing. Entire fencerows can be lined with this poisonous tree, making it difficult to monitor all the branches falling into the grazing area.

Black Cherry (bundle of 25)

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