Black cherry trees are tall attractive fruit trees that also serve as shade trees. This fruit tree grows rapidly at a rate of 2 or more feet each year. Although these trees are lovely and useful in providing an attractive landscape, food and lumber, they can also be challenging if not controlled. Seeds from the tree's fruit easily germinate, causing a problem as black cherry trees can quickly take over lawns, borders and forests.
Black cherry trees (Pronus serotia) are oval shaped deciduous trees. Leaves of the tree are thick, pointed and oblong, with fine serrations along the leaf margins. Bark is reddish brown and hard. The trees are known for producing small yellowish-white cylindrical blooms in May. In late spring the tree produces pale green, pea-sized berries that later turn to dark purple and then black in August.
Geography and Size
The black cherry tree is a native of Mexico, Central America and eastern North America. The tree has green glossy leaves that turn to attractive yellow shades in autumn. As one of the largest cherry tree varieties, the black cherry is able to grow as tall as 60 to 90 feet tall and live as long as 150 to 200 years, according to OsterMiller.org.
Landscaping is a major use of black cherry trees. Because of the large size of these trees, they usually aren't used in urban yards that are too small.
Berries from the tree are used to make jellies and jams. Black cherries are also used in flavoring some types of liquors. Wood from the tree is used in making products including cabinets, furniture, musical instruments and gunstocks.
The best time to plant seedlings is early spring. These trees should be planted in areas receiving much sunshine because shady areas can hinder growth.
Although a black cherry tree can grow well on most soils, it doesn't do well in wetlands or poorly drained soils. Black cherry seedlings are difficult to get established on land that's considered too wet for average agriculture uses.
Many animals and insects are attracted to black cherry trees. Squirrels and birds such as songbirds, bobwhites and pheasants often eat the cherries before they ripen. Raccoons, cottontail rabbits and whitetail deer also munch on the tree's fruit. Some of the most common insect pests include scales, borers, aphids and tent caterpillars.
This tree isn't suited for planting in lawns as their berries are messy when falling from the tree. Birds grabbing the berries also cause a mess when dropping them on a lawn.
Black cherry trees contain cyanide, which is a poison, making the tree toxic for livestock. Livestock caretakers should be careful not to plant black cherry trees near their animals. Horses can become weak or extremely depressed when eating from the tree and may exhibit symptoms similar to congestive heart failure.