ftshl-wildrosesmp8-sm.jpg (9176 bytes)Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
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"And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.   And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day" (Genesis 1:31)

Flowering Trees, Bushes and Shrubs of Sleepy Hollow Lake
Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

(Wild Black Cherry - 01)  The wild black cherry tree is a native of eastern North America, that has now spread to other parts of the world.  In the Spring of the year, after the leaves open, the black cherry flower clusters begin to open, as is the one in this photo.




(Wild Black Cherry - 01a)  This is a closer look at the newly opening wild black cherry bloom cluster.  Note that the flowers begin to open at the base of the stem (photo top) and progress to the tip, where the buds are still closed.







(Wild Black Cherry - 01b)  The leaves of the wild black cherry are simple, long, and somewhat shiny, with finely toothed or serrated edges (margins).  The length of the mature leaves can vary from a little as 6 cm. to as much 14 cm.  The leaves of the wild black cherry can also be very toxic if eaten.  The undamaged leaves contain a chemical substance called prunasin, a cyanide precursor that in itself is non-toxic. When the leaves are damaged, the prunasin molecule is split and free cyanide (also called prussic acid or hydrocyanic acid) is liberated, which is very toxic if as little as two ounces or the damaged leaves are eaten.


(Wild Black Cherry - 02)  This late spring photo of the wild black cherry tree was taken just after all of the flowers in the drooping racemes have opened.  The genus name, Prunus, refers to plum and cherry trees, and the species name, serotina, means late, referring to the late blooming of the wild black cherry tree.



(Wild Black Cherry - 03)  This is another look at a flowering raceme of the wild black cherry tree.





(Wild Black Cherry - 03a)  In this photo, we have a closer look at some of the wild black cherry tree flowers.








(Wild Black Cherry - 04)  The mature 1 cm. in diameter fruit of the wild black cherry are dark red to black in color.  Note that many of the cherries have already fallen off or have been eaten by an animal.




(Wild Black Cherry - 04a)  This is a closer look at some of the wild black cherries.  The actual size of each cherry is about 1 cm. in diameter.  Unlike the leaves, the bitter tasting cherries are edible, and can be made into jams or jellies.  Birds love the cherries, as they don't taste the astringency as being unpleasant.




(Wild Black Cherry - 05)  This is another look at a cluster of wild black cherries.  We can also see the variation in color from dark red to black.





(Wild Black Cherry - 05a)  In this close up look at the wild black cherries, we have a better look at the color variation and the notches where cherries have been plucked off or the raceme.









(Wild Black Cherry - 06)  This wild black cherry tree is in full bloom with its racemes of fragrant white flowers.





(Wild Black Cherry - 06a)  This is a closer look at some of the flowering branches of the wild black cherry tree.  Note that the new growth branches are green, but as they mature they turn to a reddish brown.





(Wild Black Cherry - 06b)  This is another wild black cherry tree branch full of flowers.







(Wild Black Cherry - 07)  In our area, the racemes of the wild black cherry trees begin to develop in early May, and continue to develop until they bloom about 4 weeks later.




(Wild Black Cherry - 07a)  The long, thin, flower laden branches of the black cherry tree hang in swooping arches.







(Wild Black Cherry - 08)  We have observed that most of the flowers don't develop into fruit, and we are not sure whether it's because they have not been fertilized, or that they are fragile and fall off before they mature.




(Wild Black Cherry - 09)  This is another look at green (unripe) wild black cherries.





(Wild Black Cherry - 10)  One of the easy ways of identifying a mature black cherry tree is from it bark, but the tree must be at least 10 years old before the bark takes on this cracked and scaly appearance, before that age the bark looks more like the branches.







(Wild Black Cherry - 11)  This is another look at the bark on the trunk of a mature black cherry tree.






(Wild Black Cherry - 12)  This is what the black cherry tree racemes and flower buds look like in mid-May.





(Wild Black Cherry - 12a)  This is a closer look at the shiny leaves and the developing flower buds of the wild black cherry tree.





(Wild Black Cherry - 12b)  In this photo of the wild black cherry tree leaves and flower buds, we can see the flower bracts are beginning to separate, revealing the developing white flower.







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Presented here are just a few of the countless components of God's creation.  Just as we cannot have human and animal life without water and plants, neither can we have lasting peace without love and compassion.  It is our hope and prayer that this series will motivate people to live and act in a cruelty-free manner; that we would no longer hurt or destroy each other, the animals or our environment.

Photos by Frank L. Hoffman unless otherwise noted.
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Frank L. Hoffman flh@all-creatures.org

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