Landowner Fact Sheets

fire cherry Prunus pensylvanica

Fire cherry is a small tree common to a variety of sites in the northern U.S. and Canada. Fire cherry is most valued for its ability to quickly reforest areas ravaged by fire. The fruits are eaten by many birds and animals.

range map Click to see more images. fall color

Fire cherry is very intolerant of shade and requires clearcutting for maximum regeneration.

A pioneer species rapidly becoming established on barren or burned land. In the southern part of its range it is found at higher elevations.


A small tree to 30 feet tall, 1 foot in diameter.

Timber Value
Fire cherry is used for fiber and fuelwood.

Wildlife Value
Fire cherry fruits, although bitter, are eaten by many birds and mammals. Buds are eaten by grouse. Foliage and twigs are browsed by deer.
Attracts American robins, bluebirds, grouse, many other birds, black bears, raccoons, deer

Insects and Diseases

Fun Facts
Fire cherry is an ecologically important tree in that it rapidly invades disturbed areas, particularly in the Northeastern U.S. It quickly stabilizes soils and helps retain crucial organic matter and nutrient constituents. It is very shade intolerant and quickly dies if overtopped. The common name fire cherry refers to the species ability to rapidly colonize burned areas; another common name, "pin cherry", refers to the small fruit size.

Latin Meaning
Prunus: Latin name for plum trees from Greek "prunos" (plum or cherry) / pensylvanica: of Pennsylvania

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Landowner Factsheets © 2004 Virginia Tech Forestry Department, all rights reserved. Text, images, and programming by: Dr. Jeff Kirwan, Dr. John R. Seiler, John A. Peterson, Edward C. Jensen, Guy Phillips, or Andrew S. Meeks.