Prunus serotina Ehrh.

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Credits

Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Article from New Trees, Ross Bayton & John Grimshaw

Recommended citation
'Prunus serotina' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/prunus/prunus-serotina/). Accessed 2019-12-08.

Genus

Common Names

  • Rum Cherry

Synonyms

  • Padus serotina (Ehrh.) Borkh.

Infraspecifics

Other species in genus

Glossary

mesophytic
(of a plant) Growing in moist (mesic) habitats.
xerophytic
(of a plant) Growing in arid (xeric) habitats.
glabrous
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
hirsute
Covered in rough coarse hairs.
key
(of fruit) Vernacular English term for winged samaras (as in e.g. Acer Fraxinus Ulmus)
lanceolate
Lance-shaped; broadest in middle tapering to point.
midrib
midveinCentral and principal vein in a leaf.
ovate
Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.
petiole
Leaf stalk.
pubescent
Covered in hairs.
serrate
With saw-like teeth at edge. serrulate Minutely serrate.
subspecies
(subsp.) Taxonomic rank for a group of organisms showing the principal characters of a species but with significant definable morphological differentiation. A subspecies occurs in populations that can occupy a distinct geographical range or habitat.

References

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Credits

Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Article from New Trees, Ross Bayton & John Grimshaw

Recommended citation
'Prunus serotina' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/prunus/prunus-serotina/). Accessed 2019-12-08.

A large deciduous tree, reaching in its most favoured situations a height of 80 to 100 ft, and occasionally found with trunks 16 ft in circumference. In England it is usually 30 to 50 ft high, the young bark glabrous, bitter, aromatic, not unpleasant to the taste. Leaves oval-lanceolate, sometimes narrowly obovate, tapering towards both ends, 2 to 512 in. long, and from 1 to 134 in. wide, glabrous and shining above, paler beneath, and usually hairy along the midrib, margins set with shallow incurved teeth; stalk 14 to 1 in. long. Flowers white, 13 in. in diameter, produced during late May and June in cylindrical racemes 4 to 6 in. long, 34 in. diameter. Fruits black, 13 in. across, round, but rather flattened like an orange.

Native of N. America, where it is widely spread, reaching from Nova Scotia to Florida, and westwards to Dakota, Texas, Arizona, etc. At its finest, which is in the Allegheny Mountains of Virginia, it is probably the largest of the genus. In Great Britain it thrives very well, and makes a handsome middle-sized tree of graceful habit, whose dark glittering foliage in summer very much resembles that of a Portugal laurel, but it is of course deciduous, and dies off a pleasing yellow. The flowers are borne profusely, and some trees ripen abundant fruits; in the United States the latter are used for flavouring rum and brandy, and for that purpose are said to be equal to the Morello cherry. I am not aware that this tree has been tried under forest conditions here, but its timber is much valued by cabinet-makers, and judging by its behaviour at Kew it will thrive better than many trees on sandy ground. The largest specimen there is 65 ft high, with a trunk 614 ft in girth (1967).

Other specimens recorded recently are: Tubney Wood, Oxon., two specimens pl. 1906, 70 × 4 ft and 60 × 414 ft (1906); Westonbirt, Glos., 60 × 512 ft (1968); Hewell Grange, Worcs., 68 × 7 ft (1963); Arley Castle, Worcs., 70 × 412 ft (1966).

From New Trees

Prunus serotina Ehrh.

American Black Cherry

This well-known and valuable species was described by Bean (B396) and Krüssmann (K46), but several local variants are now treated at subspecific level and may be found in some collections. A key to all the subspecies of Prunus serotina, modified from that of McVaugh (1951), is provided below.

1a.

Branchlets and foliage entirely glabrous, leaves coarsely serrate, petiole long (~1.5 cm); USA (Texas: Edwards Plateau) (not traced in cultivation)

subsp. eximia

1b.

Branchlets glabrous to hirsute, foliage rufous-pubescent below, leaves finely serrate, petiole short (< 1 cm)

2

2a.

Branchlets rufous-hirsute; leaves not or scarcely drooping, less than twice as long as wide, lower surface uniformly pubescent; USA (Alabama, Florida, Georgia)

subsp. hirsuta

2b.

Branchlets glabrous or sparsely hirsute; leaves drooping, 2.5–3 times as long as wide, lower surface glabrous except for tufts of hair near base of midrib

3

3a.

Branchlets glabrous; leaves narrowly lanceolate, usually 8–12 cm long and 2.5–3.5 times as long as wide, sometimes totally glabrous; racemes > 15 cm long; fruit to 2–2.5 cm diameter; USA (California), Mexico (southern), Central America, South America

subsp. capuli

3b.

Branchlets glabrous or sparsely hirsute; leaves elliptic to ovate, usually 1.8–2.5 times as long as wide; racemes < 15 cm long; fruit to 0.6–1 cm diameter

4

4a.

Xerophytic growth-form with small leaves, sparse branches; leaves 5–7(–9) cm long; racemes ~10 cm long; USA (Arizona, New Mexico, Texas), Mexico

subsp. virens

4b.

Mesophytic growth-form with large leaves, luxuriant growth; leaves 6–9(–15) cm long; racemes ~12 cm long; Canada, USA (eastern), high mountains of Mexico & Guatemala

subsp. serotina

 


'Asplenifolia'

Leaves deeply and irregularly cut at the margins.

f. phelloides Schwer.

Synonyms
P. serotina var. salicifolia Nichols, ex Henry, not (Kunth) Koehne

Leaves lanceolate. Schwerin’s description was made from a tree distributed early this century by Hesse’s nurseries under the name “Cerasus virginiana pyramidalis salicifolia”. A tree at Kew, planted around 1880, had similar foliage but was probably of different origin. The leaves hung loose and pendent, like those of a willow, and the branches were also pendulous.

P salicifolia Kunth

Synonyms
P. serotina var. salicifolia (Kunth) Koehne
P. capuli Cav.
P. capollin Zucc

Closely allied to P. serotina, differing in its more leathery, almost glabrous, lanceolate leaves, and its larger, edible fruits. It has a wide distribution, from Mexico to Ecuador and Peru. The specific epithets capuli and capollin (see synonyms) are two forms of the vernacular name for it.

'Pendula'

A pretty tree with weeping branches, usually budded on tall stems of P. padus.

subsp. capuli (Cav.) McVaugh

Common Names
Capulín

Synonyms
P. salicifolia Kunth

Subsp. capuli is notable for the size of its fruits, up to 1.7 cm in diameter (Krüssmann 1986), which are produced on long pendulous racemes and look extremely tempting. They are indeed edible, and very highly prized by local people throughout its range in Central and South America: the Capulín’s native range has been blurred by its cultivation as a fruit tree (Office of International Affairs 1989). It seems to be rare in cultivation in our area – surprisingly, given that it is distinctly ornamental in fruit, and hardy in British and western European conditions. It is capable of achieving impressive stature: a specimen of 17 m (in 1981) formerly grew at Kew, but the current British champion, at Greenways, Devon, was measured at 20 m (85 cm dbh) by Owen Johnson in 2004 (TROBI). It is occasionally grown in continental Europe (Jan De Langhe, pers. comm. 2008), and is also in cultivation in California.

subsp. hirsuta (Elliott) McVaugh

Synonyms
P. alabamensis Mohr
P. cuthbertii Small

Prunus serotina subsp. hirsuta is probably better known as P. alabamensis, and this is the name under which it is usually found in collections. It is a vigorously growing tree and is capable of becoming quite large. The British champion is a specimen of 17.6 m (with two stems, of 31 cm and 34 cm dbh) at the Hillier Gardens, planted prior to 1977, and another individual in that collection, accessioned in 1983, was 10.5 m tall in 2004. At Kew a specimen received in 1965 is now 10 m tall by about the same wide. This was just beginning to turn yellow when seen in early November 2007 – rather later than most other trees in that exceptional autumn.

subsp. virens (Wooton & Standl.) McVaugh

Synonyms
Padus virens Wooton & Standl.

Subsp. virens is the dryland representative of the Prunus serotina complex, and in most of our area is probably of interest only to collectors. In semi-arid regions of the southern and western United States it might be useful. A tree derived from a collection by Carl English in the Black Mountains of New Mexico has grown at Kew since 1970, reaching about 5 m, but is currently suffering greatly from dieback. The foliage and inflorescences are distinctly smaller than in other forms of P. serotina growing nearby.

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