NC Native Plant Society:
Plant Details

Prunus serotina var. serotina

Wild Black Cherry, Wild Cherry, Cabinet Cherry, Rum Cherry

Scientific Name:

Prunus serotina var. serotina



Species Epithet:


Common Name:

Wild Black Cherry, Wild Cherry, Cabinet Cherry, Rum Cherry

Plant Type


Life Cycle


Plant Family

Rosaceae (Rose Family)


NC Native


12-36 ft., 36-72 ft., 72-100 ft.

Bloom Color(s):



Sun - 6 or more hours of sun per day, Part Shade - 2 to 6 hours of sun per day

Soil Moisture:

Dry, Moist

Bloom Time:

April, May

Growing Area:

Mountains, Piedmont, Coastal Plain

Habitat Description:

“Rich coves, bottomlands, northern hardwood forests, and in a wide variety of lower elevation habitats from dry to mesic, and weedy in fencerows. ...In the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, P. serotina is generally a small, scrubby tree of fencerows and an understory tree in forests and woodlands, but in the Mountains reaching large sizes and full canopy stature”(Weakley 2015). Common throughout NC.

Leaf Arrangement:


Leaf Retention:


Leaf Type:

Leaves veined, not needle-like or scale-like

Leaf Form:


Life Cycle:


Wildlife Value:

Highest Wildlife Value

Landscape Value:

Highly Recommended and Available


"A showy tree with handsome trunk and branches, attractive foliage, especially in fall, and ornamental blooms and fruit. Easy to grow...Fruit consumed by 33 species of birds and many mammals. Attracts: Birds , Butterflies. Larval Host: Eastern tiger swallowtail, Cherry Gall Azure, Viceroy, Columbia Silkmoth, Promethea Moth, Small-eyed Sphinx Moth, Wild Cherry Sphinx Moth, Banded Tussock Moth, Band-edged Prominent, Spotted Apatelodes." Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center
Prunus serotina var. serotina is the only variety in NC.

In bloom


Jack Spruill, Hampstead, April 13, 2008

Jack Spruill notes the acrid smell and bitter taste of young tree bark. The bark and wilted leaves contain hydrocyanic acid, toxic to pets and livestock in large amounts (but not to deer!)

Close-up of flowers


Jack Spruill, Hampstead, April 16, 2008

Black Cherry is the largest of our native cherries, reaching its full height in the mountains. An adaptable tree, it grows in woodlands, pastures and fencerows.

In fruit

Black Cherry is a great wildlife tree with abundant berries attracting many birds. The wood is prized for furniture and the berries are made into jelly, wine and liqueurs.


Jack Spruill, Hampstead, June 28, 2009

Bark showing the characteristic horizontal lenticels

Orange County, NC

Bettina Darveaux

Developing raceme and leaves emerging in early spring

Orange County, NC

Bettina Darveaux

Flowers just about ready to open in early April

Orange County, NC

Bettina Darveaux

Close-up of raceme of interesting white flowers

Orange County, NC

Bettina Darveaux


USDA PLANTS Database Record

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