What's this tree?

ZoeCat17April 21, 2012

Hello -

I'm wondering if anyone can help identify this tree - I just noticed today that it's in flower, and despite what the real estate agent said a year ago, it doesn't look like a cherry tree. The flowers are on 4-6 inch spikes. It is lovely though and has pretty bark: From 2012-04-21 From 2012-04-21 From 2012-04-21


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From the photo, it appears to me to be a young specimen of wild black cherry, Prunus serotina. Leaves look too pointed to be a chokecherry (P. virginiana) and the plant, from what I can tell by the picture, would be probably too large for a typical chokecherry, although some can get quite tree-like.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 10:30AM
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Hello from the "Land of Pleasant Living". You do indeed have Prunus serotina or Black Cherry. Crush the stems, it should smell like almonds. The fruits are small and good for wildlife but not humans. Wilted foliage is poisonous to cattle. I am in NE Maryland and in my area they seldom make nice trees because of the disease Black Knot.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 10:36AM
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Thanks! So the real estate agent wasn't completely wrong, but when she said "and the cherry tree bears fruit" after I mentioned that I like to bake, she wasn't exactly right either.

The tree is covered with flowers, so hopefully the berries will keep the birds distracted and away from my tomatoes.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 12:30PM
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Also, should you somehow be able to get it to grow to stature, a very highly-prized wood will be contained within the confines of its bark. Actually, and I'm not really sure if this still is true, but there is apparently only one region of the country (US) where Prunus serotina grows well enough and abundantly enough to be logged commercially, somewhere in PA.

I've got a few on my land, but they're not going to win any prizes.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 1:01PM
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I have gobs of them wild here in S.E. Ohio on my property. Large ones are an awesome sight in bloom. The beautiful bark is defining both young and on mature trees. Great wildlife food.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 4:52PM
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When I was in school, the Forestry teacher had us doing tree id and related classes in a nearby woods. There was a black cherry in there so huge that nobody ever got the id right on it. The bark down where you could see it had lost all the tell-tale attributes one would use to come up with the correct id. A truly huge black cherry tree.

In addition to the tree itself, I like the type of woods where bl. cherrys are found. Rich, moist soils, lots of sugar maple, beech, hemlock, yellow birch. Good stuff.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 6:13PM
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Yep..........very mature bark is exfoliating and flaky and quite gorgeous but very unlike the typical striated bark of many younger cherry. There was an amazing specimen at Dawes Arboretum not far from the visitor center when one enters the grounds. I knew prunus serotina, but the racimess on this one stood out like it was on steroids and we hit that visit at peak bloom. I had to ask what it was and was astounded when they told me.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 3:50PM
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