Prunus serotina

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Common name: wild black cherry [1]

Prunus serotina
Prunus serotina SEF.jpg
Photo by John Gwaltney hosted at Southeastern
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicots
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Species: P. serotina
Binomial name
Prunus serotina
Natural range of Prunus serotina from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Taxonomic Notes

Synonyms: Prunus serotina ssp. serotina

Varieties: Prunus speciosa (Koidzumi) Nakai; Prunus spinosa L.


P. serotina is a perennial shrub/tree of the Rosaceae family native to North America and Canada. [2]


P. serotina is found in the eastern half of the United States excluding South Dakota, as well as the British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec regions of Canada. [2]



P. serotina proliferates in rich coves, bottomlands, northern hardwood forests, and in a wide variety of lower elevation habitats from dry to mesic, and weedy in fencerows. [1] Specimens have been collected from habitats that include wet woods, sandpine woods, longleaf pine wiregrass scrub oak stand, dense swampy forest, open woodland, mesic mixed hardwoods, dry long leaf pine sandhills, hammock, thin stand of planted slash pine, dry mesic harwood forests, slope of narrow ravine, river bank, and semi shaded moist loamy sand in open woodland. [3]


P. serotina has been observed to flower February through April. [4] This tree sometimes reaches a height of 90 feet and a maximum trunk diameter of 4 feet. The trunk is straight and covered with rough black bark, but the young branches are smooth and reddish. The smooth shining leaves are about 2 to 5 inches long. The long drooping clusters of small white flowers are borne at the ends of the branches, usually during May. The cherries, which ripen about August or September, are round, black, or very dark purple, about the size of a pea, and have a sweet, slightly astringent taste. [5]

Seed dispersal

This species is thought to be dispersed by consumption by vertebrates. [6]

Use by animals

P. serotina is a bird-dispersed species. [7] It also serves as the main host plant for the eastern tent caterpillar. [8]

This species is a larval host for tiger swallowtail, mourning cloak, and white admiral butterflies. [9]

Diseases and parasites

P. serotina is susceptible to the black knot fungus. [8]

The parasitic species Phoradendron leucarpum or American Mistletoe has been observed on the P. serotina branches. [9]

Conservation and Management

Cultivation and restoration

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1
  2. 2.0 2.1 USDA Plant Database
  3. URL: Last accessed: June 2018. Collectors: Loran C. Anderson, R.K. Godfrey, O. Lakela, Frank Almeda, Richar Mitchell, Robert lazor, L.R. FOx, J. Harrison, R. Garren, Patricia Elliot, Gary Knight, Gwynn W. Ramsey, H. Larry E. Stripling, Mr. H.A. Davis, Mrs. H.A. Davis, S.W. Leonard, Wilson Baker, Alush Shilom Ton, R. Komarek, Ed Keppner, Lisa Keppner, K. MacClendon, T. MacClendon, Geo. Wilder, Albert B. Pittman, Herrick H.K. Brown, R. Kral, Dorothy Cladin, Pete Mazzeo, lizabeth Gibson, Dick Harlow, Angus Gholson, B. Boothe, A. Sagastegui, J. Mestacere, M. Diestra. States and counties: Florida (Franklin, Washington, Jefferson, Leon, Jackson, Hillsborough, Union, Marion, Duval, Liberty, Madison, Walton, Gadsden, Wakulla, Bay, Calhoun, Holmes, Volusia, Putnam, St. John, Escambia, Santa Rosa) Georgia (Thomas, Grady,Marion, Rockdale, Baker) South Carolina (Lexington) Virgin Islands.
  4. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 24 MAY 2018
  5. Sievers, A. F. (1930). American medicinal plants of commercial importance. Washington, USDA.
  6. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.
  7. Leck, M. A. and C. F. Leck (1998). "A ten-year seed bank study of old field succession in central New Jersey." The Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 125(1): 11-32.
  8. 8.0 8.1 USDA Forest Service (1989). Insects and diseases of trees in the South. USDA Forest Service, Atlanta, GA. Protection Report R8-PR 16. F. S. S. Region: 98.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Observation by Jennifer Pell, comment by Jenny Jeanette Welch, Oak Hill Fl., February 22, 2018, posted to Florida Flora and Ecosystematics Facebook Group.