Black cherry

Black cherry

Prunus serotina

Common Name:

Black cherry

Scientific Name:

Prunus serotina

Alternative common names:

Wild black cherry, rum cherry, or mountain black cherry.



Black cherryis a deciduous tree, growing up to 15-30 metres tall, with a trunk diameter of up to 70-120cm.A mature black cherry can easily be identified in a forest by its very broken, dark grey to black bark, which has the appearance of very thick, burnt cornflakes.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

North America.

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEM:BA Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Gauteng and Limpopo Provinces.

How does it spread?

The seeds are widely dispersed by birds that eat the fruit and then excrete them. Some seeds however may remain in the soil bank and not germinate for as long as three years.

Why is it a problem?

Black cherry is a leading cause of livestock illness.It may also compete with indigenous trees.

What does it look like?

Leaves: The leaves are simple, 6-14cm long, with a serrated margin.
Flowers: The flowers are small (10-15mm in diameter), with five white petals and about 20 stamens, and are fragrant. There are around 40 flowers on each raceme.
Fruit/seeds: The fruit is a drupe, 1cm in diameter, green to red at first, ripening to black.

Does the plant have any uses?

The trees are sometimes grown as ornaments.

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