Prunus varieties include both plum and cherry. There are several native Prunus species. The Bird Cherry (Prunus padus) is a tree or shrub up to 45 ft high. In spring it is covered with a mass of white blossom, has somewhat bitter black fruits that ripen in late July-august and can be used to flavor wines.
As an ornamental tree, it is prized for spring-fresh, fragrant, drooping flower clusters. The bark is smooth, gray-brown, releasing a pungent scent when rubbed. Bird Cherry has nice fall color with foliage turning yellow-gold to bronze-red.
Bird cherry is an important source of food for birds. The fruits can be swallowed easily by robins, thrushes and warblers. They are much sought after, and the trees are soon stripped. Ripe fruit is thus available over a very short period.
For the best flowering and growth form, place in full sun with good air circulation. lIt does best in well-drained soils. Overwatering can cause stress and poor root growth. Bird Cherry prefers lime soils. It spreads by seeds and suckers.
- Other names: Hackberry, Mayday tree
- Synonyms: Prunus padus
- Family: Rosaceae
- Native to: Northern Europe and northern Asia