16 April 2015

Wild Black Cherry tree is Prunus serotina

Prunus serotina, wild black cherry tree
Wild black cherry trees have been added to our fence line in two places, thanks to wildlife. No more, please.

Considered junk trees by many, we allow these two because they provide early pollen for many insects and late little berries for birds. Of course, the birds like those cherries so much that they replant and replant with abandon.

This plant is one of the pioneer species, mostly growing where black walnut, hackberry and black locust trees proliferate.

The tree was introduced as an ornamental and since the seed germination rates are very high, it soon became naturalized until today it is considered undesirable or invasive, which ever word you prefer.

Wild Black Cherry is host to caterpillars who eat its leaves.

If the leaves are crushed, they smell like cherries.

Eastern OK is at the far-west portion of its habitat, probably because of our normal rainfall being high. West of the OK/AR state line there is nothing on the graph at the link.

MOBOT reminds us that Wild Black Cherry is hardy in zones 3 to 9,  They are easy to grow but due to a deep taproot, they are difficult to transplant. They also say the fruit is inedible fresh off the tree but we can attest to the jelly made from them being very high in flavor!

And, "Native Americans prepared decoctions of the inner bark for cough medicines and tea-like cold remedies. Hard, reddish-brown wood takes a fine polish and is commercially valued for use in a large number of products such as furniture, veneers, cabinets, interior paneling, gun stocks, instrument/tool handles and musical instruments. Specific epithet comes from the Latin word for “late” in reference to the late flowering and fruiting of this cherry in comparison to other cherries."

Yikes! Illinois Wildflowers' site says they grow to 80 feet tall. So if you don't like it decide before it becomes too tall to remove without great expense.

Hmmm. I've only made jam but if your interests and culinary talents are broader than mine, try the wine recipe here. Brandeis University provides a juice and jam recipe for you here.


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