Wild Cherry tree identification

The Wild Cherry Prunus avium is native to Britain, Europe, North Africa and Western Asia.  It grows well in areas with heavy clay soils. Isolated trees or small stands are often found scattered through old woodland and it has been planted thoughout Britain in new woodlands, parks, gardens and streets. The fruit has been eaten by humans for thousands of years. Wild cherry is used as a rootstock for the hundreds of species of Flowering Cherries that are found in streets and gardens. Wild Cherry tree identification is by its leaves, flowers, fruit and distinctive bark. Click on any photo to enlarge it.

wild cherry tree

A tree in woodland in August. Wild Cherry trees are pollinated by bees. The flowers act as a source of nectar and pollen for the bees.

wild cherry leaf

The leaf has sharp teeth.

wild cherry tree bark

The bark has horizontal bands and old trees like this also have vertical cracks. The  horizontal lines are lenticels. These are pores through which gases may pass. 

2-6 flowers emerge from each bud, with the leaves, in April. This type of flower cluster, where the flower and leaf stalks appear to come from one point, is known by botanists as an umbel.

Close-up of a flower in April. The flower has many yellow pollen-laden anthers and one green style with a flat stigma that becomes receptive before the pollen is released. Nectar is secreted at the centre of the flower to attract bees.  

Fruit in July. Not all the flowers are pollinated. The tree may produce fewer flowers if there are fewer flower buds set in the previous year. If there are late frosts the flowers that have been produced may be killed. If it is too wet in spring, the bees may not fly.

The buds are clustered on short shoots called spurs. 

Each bud has many overlapping scales. Buds can grow flowers or leaves.

Tree in December.