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TreesFruit Edible

Prunus avium
  • RHS Plants for pollinators

wild cherry

A spreading, deciduous tree with nodding clusters of pure white flowers 2.5cm wide in late spring, followed by small, shiny red-purple fruits; dark green leaves, bronze when young, turn orange and red in autumn. Many cultivated varieties of cherry have been bred from this species

Other common names
bird cherry
Cheshire merry tree
see morecrab cherry
gean
hagberry
mazzard
merry tree
Suffolk merries
sweet cherry

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Size
Ultimate height
Higher than 12 metres
Time to ultimate height
20–50 years
Ultimate spread
Wider than 8 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Clay
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained, Well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring White Bronze Green
Summer Green
Autumn Orange Red Purple Red
Winter
Position
  • Full sun
Aspect

North–facing or West–facing or East–facing or South–facing

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered
Hardiness
H6
Botanical details
Family
Rosaceae
Native to the UK
Yes
Foliage
Deciduous
Habit
Bushy
Genus

Prunus can be deciduous or evergreen trees or shrubs with showy flowers in spring, and often good autumn foliage colour. Some have edible fruit in autumn, and a few species have ornamental bark

Name status

Correct

Plant range
Europe to Asia Minor, Caucasus, W Siberia

How to grow

Cultivation

Grow in moderately fertile soil in full sun. Cherries are best suited to fan-training so they can be netted against bird damage and protected from frosts. See sweet cherry cultivation for more advice

Propagation

Propagate by chip budding or grafting, although softwood cuttings in early summer with bottom heat can be successful.

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Cottage and informal garden
  • Wildflower meadow
  • Wildlife gardens
  • Flower borders and beds
  • Edible fruit
Pruning

Train fan-trained trees in spring. Prune established fans and carry out routine pruning on established cherry trees when harvesting the fruits in summer

Pests

May be susceptible to cherry blackfly, pear and cherry slugworm and winter moth caterpillar. The fruit can be damaged by spotted wing drosophila and birds

Diseases

May be susceptible to peach leaf curl, silver leaf, bacterial canker, blossom wilt and honey fungus. High Risk Host for Xylella fastidiosa

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