black cherry
Prunus serotina Ehrh.
  • LEAVES: deciduous, alternate, simple, with minute subulate and toothed, quickly-deciduous stipules; petioles to 0.4” long; blades elliptic, 2-5” long by 1-2” wide; tips acute, margins serrate with gland-bearing teeth; upper blade surface glabrous, bright green and lustrous early in the season, lower surface paler, glabrous or with wooly rust-colored pubescence to either side of the midrib along the proximal 1/3rd
  • FLOWER: perfect (bisexual), white, small, ca. 0.25” across, arranged in axillary racemes born on previous year’s twigs, racemes to ca. 3” long, often curved; flowering in early spring as leaves emerge or shortly after
  • FRUIT: globular (flattish apically) dark purple drupes ca. 0.4”; maturing summer
  • TWIGS: new shoots with purplish-red scales below the new leaves, these quickly falling; young twigs glabrous, green to suffused with reddish pigment; broken twigs with an almond-like odor
  • BARK: on young woody twigs thin and reddish brown after waxy bloom has sloughed, lenticels inconspicuous the first year, eventually prominent and horizontally elongate; bark of mature trees blackish and shiny, flaky (resembling burnt potato chips)
  • FORM: medium-sized tree to ca. 100’ tall, commonly flowering and fruiting much smaller, including when merely the stature of a shrub
  • HABITAT: mesic forests, including edges; fencerows, colonizing old fields and cutovers
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative Upland (FACU): Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: eastern US; southwestern US, Mexico and Guatemala
    [Global Distribution] [North American Distribution]
  • USES: wood very valuable, used for furniture, cabinets, gunstocks, paneling; fruit used to make wine, for flavoring liqueurs, and for jellies and preserves; ornamental
  • WILDLIFE: fruits are important food for numerous birds and mammals
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. bark of young trees smooth with horizontally elongate lenticels; that of older trees shiny black and flaky
    2. leaves elliptic, singly serrate with teeth bearing red glands
    3. rusty pubescence on proximal portion of midrib on leaf undersurface
    4. characteristic odor of broken twigs