Welcome! Today we are going to discuss the Black Cherry Tree (Prunus serotina). The Black Cherry Tree is the largest native cherry tree to New Jersey and probably the most important to wildlife who readily consume its berries. At least 70 species of birds feed on this tree including:
Some birds have been known to get drunk from eating fermented berries from the tree! The tree also supports well over two hundred species of butterfly and moth caterpillars.
Young Black Cherry trees, such as in the photo above, are generally black with white lenticels. When young, the tree resembles Black Birch and vice versa. A way to tell the difference is that Black Cherry smells like cyanide when you break a branch whereas Black Birch smells like wintergreen. Black Cherry is one of the first native trees to repopulate an area that has been disturbed such as an abandoned farm field. It grows readily near road sides and forest edges. The tree is not tolerant of the dense shade of the deep woods nor can it tolerate very wet or dry soil. It can be somewhat weedy given its popularity with birds. It is actually the most common tree in NYC’s Central Park!
Mature Black Cherry Trees, such as in the photo above, have bark that resembles (to me anyway) burnt potato chips.
Black Cherry Trees generally bloom in the merry of month of May. Above is a close-up of its flowers.
The picture above shows the berries which are ever so popular with wildlife. Black Cherry’s wetland indicator status is FACU which means that while the tree is usually found in uplands it may be found in freshwater wetlands on occasion. The tree can grow in the wild up to 100 feet if given the opportunity.
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