Rick’s Native Plant of the Month | Black Cherry

February 14, 2022

By Rick Bogusch

Bridge Gardens

Black cherry, Prunus serotina, is a northeast native that can be found in the forests of Long Island. It usually develops a tall trunk without branches, covered with distinctive dark gray, scaly bark. Still a valuable timber tree, black cherry is not a common tree for landscaping. It has a taproot that resists transplanting in large sizes and a large number of pests and diseases, not to mention that it can be messy and weedy.

But black cherry IS a good tree for naturalizing and a great tree in a hedgerow. Moderately deer-resistant, it grows well in average and dry soils, in full sun or partial shade. In May, it is covered with drooping elongated clusters of small pollinator-friendly white flowers. These become abundant purple-black fruits by late summer and are beloved by birds, small mammals and even some humans, who gather them for cordials and jelly.


Large scales of black cherry tree bark

With leaves that provide food for the caterpillars of many species of moths and butterflies and turn a brilliant red-orange in fall, black cherry is an important native tree, one to plant and to preserve.

We have two black cherry trees at Bridge Gardens. You can find one in the woodland garden alongside the driveway and the other near our compost area.

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