Weed of the Week #10 – Black Cherry (Prunus serotina: Rosaceae)

 

This week’s weed is another tree that can easily be spotted if you live in the eastern United States, and yes it has white spike blossoms too!  Black cherry is a rather weedy tree that has been known to grow many different places in the rural and urban environs. It’s just as happy growing in forests and abandoned fields as it is growing as a street tree in NYC, which I only noticed because it was in full bloom like in the photo above. It also spreads rather easily because of the palatability of its fruits to wildlife; it has been reported that over 80 different animals consume its tasty cherries.

 

Where It’s From: Eastern United States and small populations in the southwest from Texas south to Guatemala.

Where It’s Found: Just about anywhere throughout the U.S. and parts of Europe. It can grow in Full sun to Full shade and from Dry to Wet soil conditions.

Where To Find It: Moist or dry, open woods. Roadsides, old fields, thickets, canyons, floodplains, and near rivers. Sometimes spotted as a street tree in the urban environment.

 

Uses: The fruit is often made into jam, pies, and flavorings for liquor, soda, and ice cream. The wood is often used for expensive cabinetry and is sold under the name “cherry”.

How to Identify: The easiest time to identify Black Cherry is when it is flowering. Its long white spike blossoms cover the tree from April-June. After the flowers disappear, small, dark-colored cherries are formed. The bark is also quite distinctive: it has horizontal striations from its youth into old age, although as it grows older the bark becomes broken and darker.

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