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Black Cherry
Prunus serotina

Black Cherry – great for wildlife, and my honeybees! However this is considered an opportunistic tree and a serious weed in parts of Europe. Lots and lots of insects like this tree, for nectar and pollen. The tree also produces droplets of nectar on the leaf stalks (!) and ants love to feed on that nectar. The ants also attack caterpillars and other insects that feed on the plant.

Not only that, but eastern tent caterpillars can completely defoliate a tree. These caterpillars protect themselves from the ants by regurgitating fluid from eating the tree that contains cyanogenic compounds from eating the young leaves. So, yeah, also the leaves are toxic. If you break off a twig and smell the broken end, it will smell bitter and almond-like, which are the toxic cyanogenic glycosides.

Extracts from the bark of the tree are used to make black cherry cough syrup (honestly I would have assumed it was the fruit, but nope!), and you can make jelly from the fruits, and you may have seen furniture made from the highly prized wood.

Size: Medium-large tree
Family: Rosaceae (Rose family)
Habitat: Forests - widely distributed
Identifiers: Alternate deciduous leaves which are lanceolate (pointed at both ends). Small white flowers in a long cluster. In summer develops thick-skinned, dark purple bittersweet fruits with a single seed.
All text and photos copyright © 2022 Middle Way Nature Reserve, unless noted.
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