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Prunus serotina


Common name: Black cherry
Origin: North America
Plant type: Tree
Life cycle: Perennial
Code of conduct: Annex I (consensus list)
Invasive status (ISEIA protocol): Black list
Main ornemental function: Ornamental tree


Deciduous tree up to 30 m tall in optimal conditions, but frequently observed with a smaller height. Also sometimes a shrub. Coriaceous leaves, alternate, lanceolate, dark green and lustrous above, with a dense yellowish-brown pubescence along the mid-rib below. White flowers and black fruits.


P. serotina is mainly dispersed by seeds, consumed by animals (birds and mammals). Abundant fructification. The species grows fastly under light conditions (56 cm/year). Under canopy, seedlings can stop their growth and survive during several decades until light conditions are met to grow again (Oskar syndrome). Vegetative reproduction from root-suckering (shoots growing from lateral roots) is also very efficient. High respouting ability after cutting.


Black cherries is invasive in acidic and poor soils. Also found on sandy soils. It occurs in forest ecosystems dominated by light demanding tree species (oak,pine). First introduced as ornamental and planted in garden and parks, this tree have been massively planted for improving sylviculture on poor soils.


Species classified A3 in Belgium. The species is widespread in Western Europe. Belgium (mostly in Flanders), Germany and The Netherlands are strongly invaded. Prunus serotina forms dense, highly competitive thickets. The plant affects the development of vegetation on ground and shrub layers and is able to reduce plant species richness (specially on moist soils). It can prevent forest regeneration. Invasion in forest ecosystems can change humus conditions and reduce soil water availability due to increased interception and transpiration. The whole plant contains cyanic acid and is toxic for livestock. Very difficult species to manage. For more information about this species, click here


Do not buy or plant this species.

Possible native alternative

Main ornemental function

Ornamental tree

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