Bird Cherry Prunus padus
The Bird Cherry is a small tree or shrub, native to northern Eurasia, including Britain. It grows well in hilly, limestone areas. It is often planted in towns and cities because its attractive white flower clusters come out in early spring. It bears bitter black cherries in July. These are eaten only by birds, hence the tree’s common name.
A group of small trees in flower in April. Outer shoots have few leaves.
The leaf is oval and toothed but the teeth are much smaller than those on the Wild Cherry. There are 2 glands near the base of the leaf. These secrete nectar, a sugary liquid that attracts ants which in turn protect the leaves against leaf-eaters such as caterpillars.
The flowers are densely packed along a main stalk, with each flower on its own short stalk. This form of flower cluster is called a raceme by botanists. Photo taken in mid April.
The flower buds on a raceme open gradually, with those at the base opening first and those near the tip opening last. The flower clusters stand upright in April but droop later in long tails.
Ripe fruit in September. This type of fruit is known by botanists as a drupe. It has 3 layers – the outer skin, a fleshy layer and then a hard stone in the middle which encloses the seed.
The bark is smooth, without the horizontal bands of the Wild Cherry.