Sidewalk Nature: Black Cherry

Sidewalk Nature: Wild black cherries are ripe! Prunus serotina.

Black cherry fruit (Prunus serotina)

We need more native black cherry trees, so come chew a few drupes and plant the pits?

Black cherries are superstar producers in our ecosystem, second only to native oaks. According to Doug Tallamy, they can support up to 456 different species of butterfly and moth larvae. This is a *lot* of healthy bird food in addition to the actual cherries. (Many times more than an ornamental Japanese cherry in Nashville.)

So far, I’ve only found two black cherries in the neighborhood. Birds plant them, but people mow and cut them as “weeds.”
They can look weedy while young and bushy, but there should be room in the average yard for so useful a plant.
And, they grow beautiful white flowers in spring.
And, the bark is lovely: stripey when young, flaky when old (like gray potato chips).
And, the twigs smell like Dr. Pepper when you scratch and sniff.


One idle way is to put those pits where you want them now and wait. They’ll need to overwinter before germinating in spring. But if I did this, I’d forget where I planted. So, I’ve put my pits in the fridge (with damp soil) and will try to remember to sow directly in the yard in late winter.
The best pits are the ones which have already travelled through a bird’s digestive system, by the way…

Wait, the REALLY idle way is to throw a handful of cherries into a nearby easement, an interstate bank, a Place-Where-Metro-Never-Mows.


(Photo location: corner of Blair and Natchez Trace.)

#gardeningforwildlife #nopesticides #prunusserotina #nativetrees #tennesseenaturalist #tennesseenativetrees #nashvilletreecanopy #nashvillestreettrees #hwen #foraging #urbanforaging #urbannature #blackcherrytree #birdfood #hostplant #sidewalknature