Prunus Species, Mountain Black Cherry, Rum Cherry, Wild Black Cherry

Prunus serotina

Family: Rosaceae (ro-ZAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Prunus (PROO-nus) (Info)
Species: serotina (se-roh-TEE-nuh) (Info)
View this plant in a garden



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


over 40 ft. (12 m)


30-40 ft. (9-12 m)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Atmore, Alabama

Gaylesville, Alabama

Saraland, Alabama

Vincent, Alabama

Huntington, Arkansas

Morrilton, Arkansas

Walnut Creek, California

Bartow, Florida

Brooksville, Florida

Daytona Beach, Florida

Hampton, Florida

Land O' Lakes, Florida

Umatilla, Florida

Champaign, Illinois

Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Indianapolis, Indiana

Valparaiso, Indiana

Wabash, Indiana

Benton, Kentucky

Clermont, Kentucky

Georgetown, Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Nicholasville, Kentucky

Paris, Kentucky

Shepherdsville, Kentucky

Smiths Grove, Kentucky

Versailles, Kentucky

Farmerville, Louisiana

Hammond, Louisiana

Brookeville, Maryland

Gaithersburg, Maryland

Valley Lee, Maryland

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Calumet, Michigan

Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Saucier, Mississippi

Aurora, Missouri

Cole Camp, Missouri

Piedmont, Missouri

Collingswood, New Jersey

Frenchtown, New Jersey

Binghamton, New York

Star, North Carolina

Glouster, Ohio

Hilliard, Ohio

Vinton, Ohio

Jay, Oklahoma

Blairsville, Pennsylvania

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Irwin, Pennsylvania

Laurens, South Carolina

Pelzer, South Carolina

Rock Hill, South Carolina

Christiana, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Lufkin, Texas

Sacul, Texas

Wytheville, Virginia

Grand Mound, Washington

Rochester, Washington

Belington, West Virginia

Elkins, West Virginia

Elmwood, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 25, 2016, Timberplot from Blairsville, PA wrote:

Black Cherry is found throughout the Eastern US but the best commercial development is found in scattered areas of the Southern Appalachains and the Allegheny Plateau sections of Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia. Black Cherry prefers deep, rich soils with uniform moisture but thrives in many soil and moisture conditions. The dark bark of old trees is broken into irregular, easily peeled, scaled plates about 3/4" thick. On young trees it is smooth, dark red-brown with horizontal lenticels.
Good Black Cherry is one of the most valuable forest trees. The reddish brown, close grained wood is hard, relatively light and weighs about 36 pounds to the cubic foot, air dried. It is used for furniture, interior trim, veneers and cabinetry. The color deepens with age.
The fruit... read more


On May 21, 2015, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

Some nurseries used to grow this tree in the Midwest. It is a good and pretty tree with great wood, the fruit feeds the birds and it provides foliage food for many beneficial insects as caterpillars that birds need for their young. It gets a good yellow to orange fall color. A common tree found in many places east of the Great Plains in the US and a little in se Canada.Often a wild tree in open fields and forest edges. It lives about 100 to 175 years and grows about 1.5 to 2.5 feet per year.


On Apr 17, 2015, FlyPoison from Rock Hill, SC (Zone 7a) wrote:

Wild Black Cherry was childhood favorite growing up in the South. We used to love eating handfuls of the bittersweet cherries which were definitely an acquired taste They are a mess but worth it, especially for attracting avian visitors.


On Mar 6, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A very fast-growing, short-lived tree commonly reaching 50-60', native to eastern North America. Excellent for birds and wildlife, and a profitable timber tree where properly managed.

Within its native range, its aggressive reproduction can interfere with forest restoration, where the goal includes species diversity. Where it's been introduced outside its native range, it's become an invasive species (Denmark, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands).

The foliage is toxic to livestock. The tiny black fruits are unpalatably bitter fresh, but have traditionally been used for wine or jelly.

In the garden or small property, I give this thumbs-down. It does not make an ornamental specimen, even in full bloom. The flowers are tiny and I don't find them at ... read more


On May 19, 2013, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

A showy tree with handsome trunk and branches, attractive foliage, especially in fall, and ornamental blooms and fruit. Easy to grow.

Birds and butterflies love it. Fruit consumed by 33 species of birds and many mammals. It's the larval host for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Cherry Gall Azure, Viceroy, Columbia Silkmoth, Promethea Moth, Small-eyed Sphinx Moth, Wild Cherry Sphinx Moth, Banded Tussock Moth, Band-edged Prominent and Spotted Apatelodes.

Ranging from southeastern Canada through the eastern United States west to eastern Texas, with disjunct populations in central Texas and mountains of the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Guatemala, Black cherry is a 25-110 ft. deciduous tree, distinctly conical in youth. When open-grown it becomes oval-h... read more


On Sep 19, 2011, Halfspied from Star, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

They are all through our woods. I don't mind the tent caterpillars because I think they bring the cuckoos to us.


On Jun 5, 2011, killdawabbit from Christiana, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

Very common and hardy in my area. I have a few in my landscape and it reseeds EVERYWHERE. But it's worth the effort to pull them. I wouldn't be without at least one Black Cherry. For the birds if no other reason.
Here it is a very attractive tree. Does get tent caterpillars in this area though. So be warned.


On Mar 17, 2008, peachespickett from Huntington, AR wrote:

Invaluable wildlife plant, in addition to feeding a myriad of animals over 70 species of birds eat black cherries. Beautiful bark, flowers and foliage. We have many growing on overgrown parts of our property, so we clear the briars and honeysuckles off of them and prune them up nicely. Last year (2007) we had an April 8 hard freeze which killed the flowers on most of the trees, and I didn't see a single cherry anywhere in this part of Western Arkansas.


On Jan 31, 2006, Breezymeadow from Culpeper, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

If I didn't have horses, I would probably not dislike this native Virginia tree as I do. They are EVERYWHERE here, & the fact that the wilted leaves, when eaten, & which blow down easily during summer storms, can sicken & kill livestock within a very short period of time, makes it difficult for me to feel positive about it.

That said, the small slightly bitter cherries are wildlife magnets, & during the summer as they ripen, the trees here are not only full of a vast variety of birds (Red-Bellied Woodpeckers & Catbirds in most abundance), but the fox & skunk scat I find about is always filled with wild cherry pits.

I also recall from my childhood, my father picking the tiny black fully-ripe cherries & steeping them in gin & vodka for fruity cocktails.


On Jan 30, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Native to this zone, this tree is common here. As others have noted, it is brittle and attracts all sorts of pests. I wouldn't erradicate them, but I wouldn't plant one either.


On Aug 14, 2005, grikdog from St. Paul, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

I love the bark on this tree. Sometimes it looks almost black. It isn't common in St. Paul but I see it occaisionally.


On Jan 22, 2005, Toxicodendron from Piedmont, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

Although this is a good tree for wildlife and makes wonderful firewood and furniture, I dislike it because I get literally thousands of seedlings each spring to pull out or spray with herbicide. Do not locate near your flower beds or vegetable garden for this reason. In the woods, the seedlings can choke out other types of vegetation, but if there is dense shade, most of them will die off naturally.


On Jan 21, 2005, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

These trees are very common in my area.I have alot of them on my property.They are fast growing and somewhat weedy.These trees get very tall and slender.The wood although pretty,is very brittle.Even in mild storms the trunks can break right in the middle of the tree.


On Jan 1, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

This tree can get quite large...up to 80'. My aunt had one that was at least that tall, a huge tree that produced vast amounts of fruit.

The wood is valuable as lumber and furniture, but ,as stated above, the tent caterpillars are kind of gross. Be sure to plant away from walkways and gutters and give it plenty of room.

I like this provides food for wildlife and is a nice shade tree when fully grown. The berries make a nice jelly.

The branches give off a distinct smell when broken and young growth is smooth and reddish.


On Dec 26, 2004, TREEHUGR from Now in Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Listed a good plant for fall/winter color in florida.
Pops up in old fields and usually wet disturbed sites.


On Mar 16, 2004, Kelli from L.A. (Canoga Park), CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

My parents had one of these trees and I always gave it wide berth because of the tent caterpillars and fall webworms, which I could not stand. My dad always said that it was a dirty tree, though he said that wild cherry lumber is valuable for making furniture.


On Apr 26, 2002, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Roots of this tree contain cyanide that is mildly poisonous to other types of plants, similar to juglone from black walnut. Tree is favorite of Eastern tent caterpillar.


On Feb 2, 2002, activex wrote:

The cherry tree is a widely favored species. From the beautiful spring blossoms to the desirable wood of this species is the more favorable member of the rose family. The bark of this tree is also used in cough syrups. (Apples and plums also belong to the rose family.)

The Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) is not so favorable to cattle and dairy farmers because when the leaves fall from the tree and decomposes, it produces glucose and cyanic acid which is highly toxic to cattle and some other farm animals.

What to look for: The tree is tall with an oblong elliptical crown. Leaves are finely saw-toothed, shiny dark green above, lighter below with 1 or 2 dark red glands at the base..

Habitat: Hardwood forests with moist soils. Found sometimes in... read more