black cherry Rosaceae Prunus
Leaf: Alternate, simple, 2 to 5 inches long, oblong to lance-shaped, finely serrated, very small inconspicuous glands on petiole, dark green and lustrous above, paler below; usually with a dense yellowish-brown, sometimes white pubescence along mid-rib.
Flower: Small white flowers in hanging, narrow clusters 4 to 6 inches long, appearing in late spring.
Fruit: Dark purple round drupe, almost black when ripe, 1/3 inch in diameter with a bitter-sweet taste; matures in late summer.
Twig: Slender, reddish brown, sometimes covered in gray epidermis, pronounced bitter almond odor and taste; buds are very small (1/5 inch),covered in several glossy, reddish brown to greenish scales; leaf scars are small and semicircular with 3 bundle scars.
Bark: Smooth with numerous short, narrow, horizontal lenticels when young; becomes very dark (nearly black), breaking up into small, rough, irregular, upturned plates (burnt corn flakes), when older.
Form: Medium sized tree which (on good sites) develops a long, straight, clear bole and can reach heights approaching 100 feet.
Looks like: sweet cherry - American plum - choke cherry - fire cherry
Additional Range Information: Prunus serotina is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting black cherry.
More Information: Fall Color - Wood - Landowner Factsheet
External Links: USDAFS Silvics of North America - USDAFS Additional Silvics - USDA Plants Database - Horticulture Information - USDAFS Forest Products Lab
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson