Black cherry is a large, native tree found in the Midwest and throughout the eastern United States. The showy white flowers appear as pendulous clusters in early spring followed by dark, pea-sized fruits in late summer. The mature bark is dark and scaly, often flipping on the edges.
This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.
All common names:
- Residential and parks
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Acid soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Dry sites,
- Alkaline soil,
- Road salt
- Moderately Tolerant
- Moderately Tolerant
- Highly susceptible to ice damage,
- Messy fruit/plant parts
- Spring blossoms,
- Fall color,
- Edible fruit,
- Showy flowers,
- Attractive bark
Seasons of Interest:
- early spring,
- mid spring,
- early fall,
- mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Cavity-nesting birds,
- Game birds,
- Game mammals,
- Insect pollinators,
- Small mammals,
Tree & Plant Care
The tree grows best in a slightly acid to neutral pH soil. Avoid wet sites.
Disease, pests, and problems
Black knot is a common fungal disease.
Eastern tent caterpillar commonly attacks this tree.
The tree self sows easily due to heavy fruit production. Can become weedy and aggressive.
Disease, pests, and problem resistance
Resistant to black walnut toxicity.
Native geographic location and habitat
Commonly found in drier upland sites, along fencerows and along the edges of wooded areas.
Bark color and texture
The bark is dark gray to almost black. It is scaly with upturned edges.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Simple, alternate leaves with finely toothed margins. Leaves are 2 to 5 inches long with small glands near the base by or on the petiole.
Leaves are dark green in summer, changing to yellow and orange in fall.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Small, white flowers on elongated clusters. Flowers have an slightly unpleasant odor.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Small cherries held in an elongated cluster. They ripen to a purple-black color.