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Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

Black Cherry Black Cherry is commonly found along many trails at the Arboretum. Under a dense forest canopy, the trees are often small and shrub-sized with few flowers or fruits. Larger trees can be found in more open areas such as forest edges or forest openings where the fast-growing black cherries can better compete for light.

Black cherries which are relished by birds and other small animals have been ripening this past week. Birds distribute large numbers of the seeds widely. Trees loaded with fruit can be seen near the Program Shelter next to the dogwood plantings and just below the Shade Tree Orchard. The bark of young Black Cherries is smooth and reddish brown or gray with well-defined horizontal lenticels.

Older trees have more furrowed, platy bark which turns up at the edges. In the past, extracts of the bark have been used in cough medicines and various tonics. The leaves and twigs contain a cyanide compound which has been implicated in the death of horses and other livestock. The wood is used extensively for veneer, furniture, and lumber.

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University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830 · Telephone: 865-483-3571 · Email: UTforest@utk.edu