Black Cherry - Prunus serotina - Zone 2 -

Black Cherry - Prunus serotina - Zone 2

The black cherry is the largest and most commercially valuable of the native North American cherry trees. Its fruit is superior in flavour to the other species and is an important food source for a broad range of wildlife.

1-3 Feetsold-out$15.00$0.00
10 x 1-3 Feetsold-out$120.00$0.00
3-5 Feetsold-out$20.00$0.00

The tree

This wild cherry tree is native to eastern North America, from zone 2 in the north, all the way down to Texas and Florida in the south and thrives in most soil types. It has an upright and slightly conical or ovoid growth habit. The tree can reach heights up to 22 m and diameters of 60cm at the heart of its geographic range and manifests a smaller more shrub-like form at the northern and southwestern ends. It is a fast-growing pioneer species, relatively intolerant of shade, and naturally occurs in early and mid-succession forests. The average lifespan is about 100 years with some specimens reaching 250 years. The juvenile bark is reddish brown with pronounced horizontal lenticles and over time it takes on a distincitive flaky appearance. Leaves are lanceolate, shiny green on top and pale underneath with finely serrated edges and yellow fall colour. The tree produces clusters of pretty white flowers in early spring followed by bunches of 6-12 dark red pea-sized cherries that ripen from late-August to mid-September. Fruit crops are relatively consistent following a cycle of a larger than normal crop every 3-4 years. Like the other native prunus species it is susceptible to black knot, a potentially fatal fungal disease marked by unsighly black galls on branches and sometimes trunks. Bark, leaves (particularly wilted leaves), and twigs contain cyanogenic compoounds and can be highly toxic for livestock.


Black cherry holds an important place in the ecosystem as a food source for wildlife. Its abundant fruit crops feed everything from songbirds to bears. Its fruit are less bitter than the other native cherries but still better used for jams and jellies than eaten raw. They also have a history of use for flavouring rum and brandy, hence another of the trees common names, rum cherry. The bark has widespread commercial use as a flavouring agent for syrups, ice cream, and sodas among other things.

Black cherry wood has significant commercial value that continues to grow as large specimens become less common. It is prized for its hardness, workability, and rich reddish colour that is often imitated using wood stains. Among North American hardwoods it is second in value only to black walnut.

Height at maturity22 meter
Hardiness zone2
SoilVariable soil types and moisture levels
Sun / shadeFull sun, Shade intolerant
HarvestMid-August to early September
Average fruit weight
Fruit colorDark red to black
Years to bear fruit
Latin namePrunus serotina
Average diameter of fruit
Also known asWild cherry