Black Cherry

Prunus serotina

twig, fruit, and leaves The black cherry is a valuable timber tree of medium size, reaching a feet and a diameter of 2 feet. It develops a large, rounded, oblong crown when grown in the open. It is found usually on rich, moist soils in mixture with other species.

branchThe thick leaves are narrow and pointed at both ends. Leaves are finely toothed with teeth curving towards the tip; dark green and very shiny above.

The twigs are dark red-brown, sometimes grayish, with the distinctive taste of the cherries. The fruit occurs in purple to black clusters. On young stems the bark is grayish brown to red-brown, with prominent white spots. On older trunks it is dark reddish brown to almost black, and very rough, breaking into upturned, stiff thin scales.

branch Leaves: long, narrow, finely serrated; turn bright yellow (a few turn red) in the fall

Branching: alternate

Bark: looks like burnt potato chips glued to the tree trunk

flowers Height: 60 to 80 ft. (100 ft.)

Trunk Dumeter: 2 to 3 ft. (5 ft.)

Longevity: 150 to 200 yrs.

Tolerance: very tolerant

Range: eastern U.S., Arizona south through Mexico to Guatemala

Fun Facts:

  • Lumber is reddish in color and used in furniture.
  • Berries are eaten by songbirds, ruffed and sharp-tailed grouse, bobwhite, pheasant, raccoon, red fox, whitetail deer, cottontail rabbit, and gray squirrel.
  • Scratch a young twig. How does it smell? (HORRIBLE!)
  • After a branch is cut, a poisonous gas forms in the leaves just as they turn yellow.
bark, twig, flowers, and cherries


Identify Another Tree

This key was developed by "bt" in June 1982. It was put into HTML format by Stephen Ostermiller in July 1997. Copies of the entire guide in zip format that may be taken to camp on a laptop are available to those who write.