Black Cherry trees sometimes called Wild Cherry are in the forest areas and in the old fence rows on the park grounds. Some of the trees are very old and large like the one shown here near the beaver pond/dam area. The hard, reddish-brown wood (cherry wood) is valued as a hardwood for turnery, and making cabinets and musical instruments.

Did you know when the leaves of a Black Cherry that are damaged (frost, trampling, drought, wilting, blown down from the tree during storms) are toxic to animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, and deer. Read about it

Black Cherry, Prunus serotina Ehrh.




Rosaceae Rose family

Text By: David A. Marquis

Black cherry (Prunus serotina), the largest of the native cherries and the only one of commercial value, is found throughout the Eastern United States. It is also known as wild black cherry, rum cherry, and mountain black cherry. Large, high-quality trees suited for furniture wood or veneer are found in large numbers in a more restricted commercial range on the Allegheny Plateau of Pennsylvania, New York, and West Virginia. Smaller quantities of high-quality trees grow in scattered locations along the southern Appalachian Mountains and the upland areas of the Gulf Coastal Plain. Elsewhere, black cherry is often a small, poorly formed tree of relatively low commercial value, but important to wildlife for its fruit.


Native Range

Black cherry grows from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick west to Southern Quebec and Ontario into Michigan and eastern Minnesota; south to Iowa, extreme eastern Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas, then east to central Florida. Several varieties extend the range: Alabama black cherry (var. alabamensis) is found in eastern Georgia, northeastern Alabama, and northwest Florida with local stands in North and South Carolina; escarpment cherry (var. eximia) grows in the Edwards Plateau region of central Texas; southwestern black cherry (var. rufula) ranges from the mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas west to Arizona and south into Mexico; capulin black cherry (var. salicifolia) is native from central Mexico to Guatemala and is naturalized in several South American countries.

Special Uses

Black cherry fruits are an important source of mast for many nongame birds, squirrel, deer, turkey, mice and moles, and other wildlife. The leaves, twigs, and bark of black cherry contain cyanide in bound form as the cyanogenic glycoside, prunasin  During foliage wilting, cyanide is released and domestic livestock that eat wilted foliage may get sick or die. Deer eat unwilted foliage without harm .

The bark has medicinal properties. In the southern Appalachians, bark is stripped from young black cherries for use in cough medicines, tonics, and sedatives. The fruit is used for making jelly and wine. Appalachian pioneers sometimes flavored their rum or brandy with the fruit to make a drink called cherry bounce. To this, the species owes one of its names-rum cherry .