Nanking Bush Cherry

Prunus tomentosa

Family: Rosaceae (ro-ZAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Prunus (PROO-nus) (Info)
Species: tomentosa (toh-men-TOH-suh) (Info)


Edible Fruits and Nuts

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:



6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

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)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Seed is poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Pale Pink


Bloom Characteristics:

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

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


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

Cullman, Alabama

Chino Valley, Arizona

Show Low, Arizona

Fairfield, California

Aurora, Colorado

Atlanta, Georgia

De Soto, Georgia

Antioch, Illinois

Carmel, Indiana

New Albany, Indiana

Tipton, Indiana

Dubuque, Iowa

Peosta, Iowa

Prospect, Kentucky

Cumberland, Maryland

Salem, Massachusetts

Pickford, Michigan

Braham, Minnesota

Chisago City, Minnesota

Isanti, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota(2 reports)

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Cole Camp, Missouri

Saint Joseph, Missouri

Helena, Montana

Lavina, Montana

Lincoln, Nebraska

Mount Upton, New York

Belfield, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota

Canton, Ohio

Felicity, Ohio

Lakewood, Ohio

Jay, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Porter, Oklahoma

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania(2 reports)

Custer, South Dakota

Winfred, South Dakota

Harker Heights, Texas

Hereford, Texas

South Hero, Vermont

Brookfield, Wisconsin

New Lisbon, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 6, 2019, LoveysGarden from De Soto, GA wrote:

I planted 5 very small Nanking cherry seedlings in the spring of 2017. Four of these survived, bloomed heavily, and produced a decent crop of cherries the following spring. The bushes have grown from less than one foot tall at planting to over seven feet tall in the past two years. They have an attractive full shape and are producing even better this year. Fruit is small, sweet-tart, and pleasant for fresh eating. Two of the bushes had to be pruned a little during this season's fruit set in order to control what appeared to be fire blight. (Likely the same blight that has plagued neighboring apple and pear trees.) The cherries seem to be disease free now after having the affected limbs removed but I will continue to monitor for recurrence.


On Apr 28, 2017, breakfast from Hardwick, VT wrote:

I love these plants, I have planted a bunch and absolutely love the blossoms as well as the fruit. I would love to get some seeds or seedlings from a "white berry" tree if anyone has one. The reason I commented though is that I can't figure out why my plant produces tons of dormant blossoms but the following year only about a quarter to a fifth of them seem to open up. anyone have this problem or know what it might be? Thanks!


On Feb 17, 2017, Jims030260 from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

This plant is a very hardy and quick growing plant of the Bush variety. Grows 6 to 8 feet tall. I have up to 10 plants lining my back fence. They began producing fruit by the start of the second season. Large production of cherries along each branch closely batched together. Usually ripens in my area about late May or early June. I have the Red cherries. Also available in burgundy and white. Would like to have the other colors.

One drawback...plants may be attacked by a worm that burrows in the middle of branches. If you have leafless branches; remove and destroy - preferrably by burning.


On Sep 17, 2015, KariGrows from New Lisbon, WI (Zone 4b) wrote:

I have four Nanking cherry bushes, which have done very well. Three reds and a white cherry . The white cherry bush has done splended until this August when it started to lose its leaves about the time the fruit was ready... now it is leafless.
Another which was beautiful last year and full of berries, now had a third of it die this winter, and one was spectacular this year.
The last one , was damaged by raccoons and while planted in the general area of the others, is a sickly green leaf, yet they stay on the tree. .
So four trees, 3 sick and one glorious one. I am sick over the ones that are not doing well . Any ideas about the leaf drop? or the poor color on the one, i tried a nitrogen fertilizer which didnt help .
Help needed in Wisconsin...


On Mar 11, 2014, oshaal from Fairfield, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I've been growing them in 24" pots for over 5 years and they are thriving. Last year was the first year I manage to pick the berries before the scrub jays devoured them. I think having ring neck doves around also worked as a deterrent to the jays - nettining didn't work. But I have had several "volunteer's" that I've replanted and given away.


On Jul 9, 2013, Calebptl from MOUNT UPTON, NY wrote:

This bush cherry is well worth planting, here in NY it really does well and bears heavily. I love it's lovely blossoms and they are so good, the best cherry taste. They are loaded with fruit right now, I picked 3 gallons in one day a few days ago, in maybe an hour, I put a wide flat basin under and strip the little branches . These do not need a pollinator as someone has mistakenly posted, sour cherries never do. You can put in blender on low for short time and then strain thru a colander or very coarse sieve to get out seeds to make wonderful smoothies or just eat fresh. I think this is a better cherry bush then Carmine jewel , which is splitting like crazy from all the rain we get here in the Northeast. They taste better and sweeter too. My Carmine Jewel also has wormy fruit problems ,... read more


On Apr 19, 2012, Olafhenny from Penticton, BC,
Canada wrote:

What a find! Obviously delivered by a bird, it established itself in the worst trouble spot in my yard as a seedling last spring, grew over summer/fall to over 5 feet in height and now, just after 12 months is blooming profusely.

Flying in the face of the full sun requirement it is thriving in almost complete shade at the north wall of our house under a roof overhang, where it only gets a sliver of sunlight after 6 pm April to August. Globe cedars withered away there, because rain doesnt get there and the sprinklers are turned of October to April. Hollyberries grow only very slowly under these conditions and even hydrangea behave very sluggishly. Not so the Nanking Bush Cherry.

For those who doubt my plant ID, I will attempt to post some pictures bes... read more


On Aug 14, 2011, joedupont from Towanda, PA (Zone 5b) wrote:

II had these plants 25 years ago but they did not have enough sun light. however they did alright. After seeing a hugh bush up here in towanda,pa i ordered 10 of them.I saw a very large bush full of cherries .. It was impressive.if this was not so sluggish i would write more.


On Jun 18, 2010, jvc613 wrote:

I am soooo excited! I didn't know the cherries were edible! This is the first year I had cherries and I am going to TRY to make a pie with my harvest from 2 bushes (will be planting more bushes!) On HARVESTING.....picking one cherry at a time was a pain so I gently rubbed the cherries and they fell on the ground. Then I picked them up from there. So much easier!


On May 16, 2010, jonathanseer from Harker Heights, TX wrote:

fruits are small but plentiful, and compared to truly sweet cherries these are much more sour/tart than sweet, but still have a nice taste.

Oddly apart from the sour, they have a flavor more similar to the "lifesaver" cherry flavor than any other type of cherry I've tasted.

I always wondered if that lifesaver cherry flavor had a basis in a real cherry LOL now I know.

I can see why people like to use it for jam. I'm going to go pick mine and try to make cherry jelly instead.


On Nov 21, 2009, eesnga from Atlanta, GA wrote:

I originally planted two of these bushes here in Atlanta, GA. These have done well and are now about eight feet tall. The two bushes have produced enough cherries each year to make a batch of cherry preserves 6-8 half pints. They produce a delicious mildly tart flavored jam. As soon as the cherries appear, you must protect the bushes with netting. The first year they produced, the birds cleaned out the entire crop in a 24 hour period.
I was so pleased with the original bushes I ordered two more and planted them beside the others. The two new plants have not done well and have not produced any fruit after two years. I am not sure of the problem. We have rabbits and Japanese beetles so that may be the problem. I am looking for information on pruning these plants because the... read more


On Mar 2, 2009, blkhand from Prospect, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

They have grown great here in Ky. I have had bumper crops year after year. We have eaten them right out of hand. They love well composted rich soil.


On Jul 16, 2008, ziggygirl from Isanti, MN wrote:

My cherrys are now 7 years old and they are getting BIG cherrys on them.I can eat them and have flesh instead of all pit!! 1/4 in flesh I thought that was good!!!
I was wondering if they need any special things- pruning- fertlizer. ect. to make them p roduce bigger fruit.


On May 29, 2008, minnasnowtan from Braham, MN (Zone 3b) wrote:

I planted 4 1-foot tall bushes last spring and all are doing great. Two have had a few blooms on them - one last summer and one this spring.

I doubt they will produce any fruits this year, but am now wondering how soon they will start to produce them. I had expected it to take a few years to even get flowers on them.

Rabbits love to eat these so I cut chicken fencing to a hight of about 2 feet and placed it around each bush. The rabbits got their revenge though and nearly destroyed one of my spirea!


On Dec 4, 2007, creekwalker from Benton County, MO (Zone 5a) wrote:

I planted two of these in the spring of 2006. They were about a foot and a half tall. One died but the other hung on. I planted another one to replace the dead one and it is hanging on too, but both are not doing well.

The one planted first had 3 blossoms on it last spring before the freeze but neither one seemed to grow last summer. They both had leaves on them, so I know they are still alive, but didn't show any sign of new growth. Are they slow growers?

I love cherries so I am hoping these two will do well.


On Sep 12, 2004, jmb11 from Antioch, IL wrote:

This plant is a FAVORITE of Japanese beetles. Also requires cross pollination to achieve fruit.


On Jun 21, 2004, Meandy from Tipton, IN (Zone 5a) wrote:

This does quite well for me too. Gorgeous when in bloom and now it is loaded with cherries. Well, it was loaded until I got out there and picked them. Birds nest in it each year too.


On Jun 3, 2004, Melissa_Ohio from Southwestern, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

Grows great for me here, the fruit is very good, although smaller than a regular cherry tree.

Also called Manchu cherry, mountain cherry, Mongolian cherry, downy cherry and Chinese bush cherry.