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Prunus avium

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© RHS 1999

Characteristics

Plant type

Tree

Habit

Bushy

Resilience

Hardiness

H6 (hardy - very cold winter)

Colour

Flower

White in Spring

Foliage

Green in Spring and Summer
Orange and Red in Autumn

Fruit

Purple and Red in Autumn

Size

Ultimate height

Higher than 12 metres

Ultimate spread

wider than 8 metres

Time to ultimate height

20-50 years


Preferred common name

wild cherry

Family

Rosaceae


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

P. avium is a medium-sized deciduous tree with nodding clusters of pure white flowers 2.5cm wide in late spring, followed by small, shiny red-purple cherries; leaves turn orange and red in autumn

Other common names

  • bird cherry
  • Cheshire merry tree
  • crab cherry
  • gean
  • hagberry
  • mazzard
  • merry tree
  • Suffolk merries
  • sweet cherry

How to grow

Sunlight

  • Full sun

Aspect

  • South-facing, North-facing, West-facing or East-facing
  • Exposed or Sheltered

Cultivation

Grow in moderately fertile soil in full sun

Soil

  • Well-drained or Moist but well-drained
  • Acid, Alkaline or Neutral
  • Sand, Clay, Chalk or Loam

Propagation

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

Suggested planting locations and garden types

Cottage/Informal Garden or Flower borders and beds


How to care

Pruning

Pruning group 1. Prune in mid-summer if silver leaf is a problem

Pests

May get aphids, caterpillars, leaf-mining moths and bullfinches

Diseases

May be affected by silver leaf, bacterial canker and blossom wilt