Black Cherry – Prunus serotina

black cherry tree leaves

Native to the eastern United States, Black Cherry is commonly found on deep, rich, moist soils in mixed stands with oaks, ashes, hickories, and yellowpoplar.

Bark is dark reddish-brown to nearly black, smooth and with horizontal lenticels, but becomes fissured and scaly with age. Black Cherries can be identified by the smell of the inner bark: when broken or scratched, it omits an almondlike odor and bitter taste. Flowers are small, with five white petals. Fruits are a black or purplish-black, edible drupe with juicy, purplish flesh. A poison, prussic acid, is released from vegetative parts and seeds when eaten raw; however, cooking dissipates the poison. It is estimated that more livestock are killed from eating Black Cherry than from any other plant.

Black Cherry is an important hardwood, used in the production of many types of furniture, interior trim, boats, printing blocks, and planning-mill products. In addition, hydrocyanic acid is extracted from the bark, and the fruit is sometimes used to flavor brandy.