and Deciduous Forest Trees

of Southern Ontario

Black Cherry
Prunus Serotina

Location in Ontario:
Black Cherry grows throughout the Deciduous Forest Region and northward.

Black Cherry, Norfolk County

Genus Prunus: Cherry trees have alternate simple leaves with toothed edges. They are monoecious with perfect flowers. The flowers are white and beautiful. The fruit is a drupe with a single seed, often called a "stone". In Ontario, this genus includes Black, Pin and Choke Cherry.

Habitat: Black Cherry grows well on a variety of soils.

Landscape Use:  Black Cherry is not often planted as a landscape tree due to its somewhat irregular form, and "messy" cherries.

TREE FACT:  All parts of Black Cherry trees except the cherry flesh contain hydrocyanic acid which is poisonous.

Leaves:  Black Cherry leaves are alternate and simple with sharply curved teeth, and are among the first leaves to emerge in spring.


Flowers: Black Cherry is monoecious with perfect flowers. Flowers are small with 5 white petals, occurring in clusters in May.

Black Cherry with lots of flowers

Seeds:  Black Cherry has seeds which are found in bitter-tasting drupes. The black coloured fruit is an important food source for many birds and small mammals. Fruit is produced after 10 years of growth, at intervals of 1 to 5 years.

Early fruit of Black Cherry

Loads of maturing fruit

Bark: The bark is variable, often with location. Its square scales may be very dark, almost blackish, or dark gray. Young trees and branches are reddish brown with horizontal lenticels.

Size: Black Cherry is the largest of the Ontario Cherry trees, but only medium in size, growing up to 22 metres. Trees can live to be 150 years old.

Wood: Black Cherry wood is moderately heavy and hard. It is used for furniture and flooring.
Specific Gravity: 0.50
Janka Harndess: 950 lb
Wood Comparison Chart

TREE FACT: Black Cherry wood is a highly valued wood for its beautiful grain and reddish-brown colour. Few large Black Cherries remain due to the value of the wood. 

The distinctive pinkish tones of Black Cherry wood.

TREE FACT: The inner bark of Black Cherry can be used to make a sedative or cough syrup.

Row of Black Cherry trees, St. Williams Nursery and Ecology Centre