Common Name: black cherry
Hardiness Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 50 to 80 ft
Width: 30 to 60 ft
Black cherry is the largest native cherry in North America. In late spring, there is an abundance of small 5-petaled white flowers that eventually produce a small cherry that turns from a dark red to almost black. The fruit is edible but has a bitter taste. The leaves are elliptical in shape with finely serrated edges. They are a shiny dark green above and light green with a hairy midvein underneath. The leaves turn to a brilliant yellow or red color in the fall. The bark on young trees is smooth and dark gray. As the trees mature, the bark becomes fissured and scaly, having the appearance of burnt potato chips. The bark scales expose a reddish-brown inner bark. Twigs on black cherry are slender, hairless, and red-brown. The bark, roots, and leaves contain concentrations of toxic cyanogenic compounds, making the inner bark have a noticeable bitter almond aroma.
Where it Grows:
Black cherry does best in moist, well-drained loam soils. It does not do well in very wet or very dry sites. Prefers full sun to part shade. Young trees grow a long taproot which makes it difficult to transplant.
How it's Used:
Black cherry can be used as an ornamental tree due to its showy fragrant flowers in the spring. Falling fruit can make it challenging for cleaning sidewalks in an urban environment. Its wood has a wide variety of uses from furniture to scientific instruments to toys.