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Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Pin Cherry

Pin Cherry

(Prunus pensylvanica L. f.)

  Pin cherry, also known as wild red cherry, fire cherry and bird cherry, commonly develops in clearings, along fence rows and along roadsides in the mountains.

The leaves are oblong, measuring 3 to 5 inches long and 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches in width. The margins are finely and sharply toothed and rather thin. The leaves are lustrous yellowish-green on both surfaces but are slightly paler on the underside.

The fruits are light red drupes about 1/4 inch in diameter, with a thin, very sour flesh. They are attached in small, lateral, umbel-like clusters and ripen during July and August.

The bark of the young trunks and branches is lustrous and bright reddish-brown. It is conspicuously marked with horizon tally elongated lenticels (small openings, usually surrounded by rough, corky tissue in the bark of a twig) and frequently peels off in horizontal strips. The green inner bark is pungent and very bitter.

The tree is short-lived and small, occasionally reaching a height of 30 feet and a diameter of up to 1 foot. The wood has little commercial value. Many species of wild birds, including the wild grouse, eat the fruits. Almost all of its seeds are spread by birds.
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