Black Cherry

Prunus serotina

Copyright, Marc and Maria Minno

Kenneth J. Sytsma, Wisconsin State Herbarium

Black Cherry, also known as "Wild Cherry," is usually a small tree, although it can sometimes grow up to 80 feet tall.

It can be seen just about anywhere, because it can grow in almost any soil, and because it can tolerate shade as an understory plant. Understory trees, like Black Cherry, can grow under taller trees, such as oaks and hickories.

Black Cherry leaves are dark green on top, and light green on bottom. They grow up to five inches long and two inches wide. Leaves turn yellow to red in the Fall.

Black Cherry flowers are small and clustered in columns. These trees bloom in April and May.

Fruits are small and turn from orange to red to black. Many animals eat the fruits.

The bark of Black Cherry is dark gray and scaly. As the tree gets older, the bark gets rougher.

Kenneth J. Sytsma, Wisconsin State Herbarium

Susan J. Aldworth, Trees and Shrubs of the Campus of Iowa State University

Kitty Kohout, Wisconsin State Herbarium

Some other trees Black Cherry often grows with include: oaks, hickories, Sassafras, Eastern White Pine, Loblolly Pine, American Holly, Red Maple, American Beech, Sugar Maple, Yellow Poplar, American Elm, and American Hornbeam.

Black Cherry also grows with Witch Hazel, violets, and club mosses, among other plants.

Some plants have a negative effect on Black Cherry. Goldenrod, asters, and Bracken Fern give off chemicals which cause Black Cherry to not grow as well. This is called allelopathy.

Erv Evans

Copyright, Mark Brand, UConn Plant Database

Many birds and mammals eat Black Cherry fruit, including: American Robin, Brown Thrasher, Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Bluebird, European Starling, Gray Catbird, Bluejay, Northern Cardinal, American Crow, woodpeckers, sparrows, Northern Bobwhite, Wild Turkey, Red Fox, Eastern Cottontail, Virginia Opossum, Raccoon, and Eastern Gray Squirrel.

Caterpillars of many moths and butterflies eat Black Cherry leaves, including: Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Viceroy, Red Spotted Purple, and Painted Lady. Eastern Tent Caterpillars can often kill Black Cherry trees by eating most of the leaves.

Some fungi which are parasites Black Cherry trees include: Honey Mushroom, Tinder Polypore, and Chicken Mushroom.

White-tailed Deer, Eastern Cottontail, mice, and Meadow Voles all eat Black Cherry seedlings.

Animals which eat the fruit of Black Cherry also help the tree spread and grow new trees. After they have eaten the fruits, the seeds come out in the animals' poop someplace new.

Relationships in Nature:

Animals Using as Food Source

Animals Using as Shelter

Associations With Other Plants


Eastern Cottontail

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth

Red Maple

Honey Mushroom Pa

Meadow Vole

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Mockernut Hickory

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth Pa

White-tailed Deer

Painted Lady

Black Oak

Goldenrod A

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

American Robin

Witch Hazel

Bracken Fern A

Virginia Opossum

Northern Cardinal

White Cushion Moss

Gray Catbird D

Painted Lady

European Gypsy Moth


Virginia Opossum D

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth

Carolina Chickadee

American Elm

Eastern Gray Squirrel D

Red Fox

Green Stinkbug

Yellow Poplar

Red Fox D

American Robin

Hummingbird Moth

American Beech

Blue Jay D

Northern Cardinal

True Katydid

Loblolly Pine

Northern Cardinal D

Eastern Bluebird

Polyphemus Moth

Eastern White Pine

Wild Turkey D

Green Stinkbug

Dogwood Borer

American Holly

American Robin D

Northern Mockingbird

American Hornbeam

Artist's Conk Pa

Common Crow

White Oak

Common Crow D

Striped Skunk

Smooth Sumac

Pileated Woodpecker D

European Starling


Bushy Aster A

Pileated Woodpecker

Running Cedar

Eastern Bluebird D

Wild Turkey

Bigtooth Aspen

Raccoon D

Luna Moth

River Birch

Downy Woodpecker D

Dogwood Borer

Dogwood Borer Pa

Relationship to Humans:

Black Cherry is a very useful wood. People make furniture, paneling, scientific instruments, toys, and handles from it. Medicines, including cough medicine, is made from Black Cherry as well. Some foods made from Black Cherry fruit include jelly and wine. Black Cherry is also used as a landscape plant and attractor of birds and other wildlife.

Black Cherry is sometimes considered a weed, especially in areas where animals have dropped a great many seeds.


Prunus serotina


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