Common Trees of the North Carolina Piedmont

Stephen M. Seiberling, Alan S. Weakley, and Peter S. White

Prunus serotina Ehrh. Black cherry, rum cherry, wild black cherry. Family Rosaceae. ITIS Taxonomic Serial Number 24764. USDA PLANTS Symbol PRSE2. TROPICOS # 27800337.

Images • Branchlet with leaves. • Individual leaf. • Close-up of leaf glands. • Branchlet with buds. • Close-up of buds. • Branchlet with flowers. • Close-up of flowers. • Herbarium sheet 1. • Herbarium sheet 2. • Herbarium sheet 3.

Detailed Description:

Plant habit and life style. Plants Angiosperms, synoecious, (10–)20–30(–45) m tall.

Stems. Pith continuous. Young twigs (1-year-old or less) bronze or brown or gray or green or red or reddish-brown, glabrous. Twigs (2–4 years old) glabrous. Leaf scars half-round or oval, bundle scars (2–)3 per leaf scar, stipule scars inconspicuous, stipule scars not circumferential, short shoots present, short shoots bearing flowers or bearing leaves. Bark of mature trunks with conspicuous lenticels or flaky or furrowed or plated or smooth.

Buds. Buds axillary or terminal, reddish-brown, 3–4(–5) mm long, ovoid, blunt or sharp, bud scales imbricate.

Leaves. Leaves deciduous, simple, petiolate, alternate, 5–15 cm long, 2–5.5 cm wide, elliptic or lanceolate or oblanceloate or oblong or oval, leaf margins crenulate or serrate or serrulate, leaf apices acuminate or acute or emarginate or obtuse, leaf bases cuneate or obtuse or rounded. Leaf upper surface green, glabrous or pubescent. Leaf lower surface green, glabrous or pubescent. Leaf venation pinnate. Petioles 1.2–2 cm long, glandular. Stipules present, 12–20 mm long, caducous, not circumferential.

Flowers. Flowering March or April or May or June. Inflorescences terminal, racemes, flowers stalked. Flowers bisexual, perigynous. Perianth. Calyx radially symmetric, synsepalous. Sepals 5 per flower, calyx tubes 1–1.5 mm long, reflexed, green, deltoid or oblong, sepal margins entire or erose or laciniate, sepal apices acute, glabrous or pubescent, puberulent, persistent. Corolla radially symmetric, apopetalous. Petals 5 per flower, 4–6 mm long, spreading, white, obovate or orbiculate or spatulate, petal apices obtuse or rounded, caducous. Androecium. Stamens (15–)20(–25) per flower, alternating with petals or opposite petals, separate. Gynoecium. Ovaries superior, pistils 1 per flower. Gynoecium monocarpous, 1 carpels per flower, styles 1 per pistil, placentation axile. Other floral features. Hypanthia present.

Fruits. Fruits drupes, 0.7–1.3 cm long, black or purple or red, fruit maturation 1 years.

Habitat. Habitat bottomland forests or disturbed and weedy areas or dry-mesic upland forests or mesic upland forests or mixed forest edges or suburban plantings.

Special Diagnostic Characters. Leaves usually with 1 or 2 glands near the point of attachment of petiole and blade; broken twigs with an almond-like odor.

Cite this publication as: ‘Stephen M. Seiberling, Alan S. Weakley, and Peter S. White (2005 onwards). Common Trees of the North Carolina Piedmont: Identification, Descriptions, Illustrations, and Glossary. Version: March 7, 2006. <>’.

Back to Contents