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Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

Host Plant: Tiger Swallowtail and Red Spotted Purple Butterfly

Nectar Plant: many insects

Flower Color: white

Growth Habit: Deciduous tree that grows to 120 feet

Range in North America: Eastern North America, disjunct in northwest

Exposure: Partial or full sun

Hardiness: Zones 3-9

Soil Requirements: Medium moist soil

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Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

White flowers of wild black cherry (Prunus serotina).

Flowers of Wild Black Cherry — Author Image

Alternative Names

Rum Cherry, Black Cherry, Mountain Black Cherry, Choke Cherry

Description of Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

Wild black cherry (Prunus serotina), a member of the Rosaceae (Rose Family), is a tree that grows up to 80 feet high.  Cherries are some of the largest trees in the eastern forest, have a distinctive black bark, and are prized for their lumber.  Wild black cherry is also one of the most important trees for pollinators and has white flowers in the spring.  Cherry trees tend to be larger in northern areas and smaller in southern areas.

More about wild black cherry can be found on this blog post.

Hosted Species

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus glaucus) on a purple flower.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on flower — Meganmccarty, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

Red Spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

Red-Spotted Purple on Vegetation — Jacob Abel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Coral Hairstreak (Satyrium titus)

Coral Hairstreak (Satyrium titus) on butterfly weed

Coral Hairstreak on Orange Flower — Meganmccarty, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) on a leaf.

Spring Azure on leaf — ALAN SCHMIERER, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

Viceroy Butterfly on white flower.

Viceroy Butterfly on White Flower — USFWS open source

Nectar Species

Numerous pollinators, including bees and flies get nectar from the flowers.  Birds and mammals like to eat the fruits.


This species grows in moist floodplains, lower slopes, dry woods, and thickets.

Range of Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) in the United States and Canada

Range map of wild black cherry (Prunus serotina) in the United States and Canada.

Interesting Facts

The genus name, Prunus, is Latin for cherry.  The species name, serotina, refers to the late flowering.



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