Bitter cherry

Silhouette - bitter cherry
  • Latin name: Prunus emarginata Dougl.
  • French name: Cerisier amer
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 24776
Description

Leaves

  • Leaf with detail of minute uneven teeth - bitter cherry

Form

  • Oval or widest above the middle
  • Gradually tapering to the base
  • Tip rounded or wedge-shaped
  • Thin and fragile
  • Lower surface hairless or downy
  • Ascending or spreading stiffly from the twig

Length

  • 3–8 cm

Colour

  • Upper and lower surfaces dull yellowish-green

Margin

  • Minute, uneven teeth
  • Margin folded upward along the midvein

Buds

  • Lateral bud and leaf scar - bitter cherry

Form

  • Larger than pin cherry, pointed
  • Diverging slightly from the twig
  • Terminal bud and several similar lateral buds clustered at the end of the twig

Length

  • 3–4 mm

Twigs

  • Winter twig - bitter cherry

Form

  • Very slender
  • Downy becoming smooth
  • Neoformed branches may develop on vigorous shoots

Colour

  • Darker red than pin cherry

Flowers

Form

  • In clusters of 5–12

Structure

  • Synoecious

Floral timing

  • When the leaves are about half-grown

Fruits

  • Fruit (left); stone (right) - bitter cherry

Form

  • Thin, bitter, astringent flesh
  • Slender-stalked
  • Produced abundantly

Width

  • 6–15 mm

Colour

  • Bright red becoming very dark red

Timing

  • Ripen in July or August

Seeds

  • May live for decades on the forest floor

Seedlings

Form

  • Cotyledons small, leafy
  • Raised above the surface

Bark

Form

  • Smooth, shiny
  • Lenticels conspicuous, large, widely spaced, horizontal, powdery
  • With age separating into horizontal papery strips
  • Bitter taste accentuated

Colour

  • Dark reddish-brown
  • Lenticels orange

Size

Height

  • To 20 m

Diameter

  • 70 cm

Maximum age

  • 40 years

Tree form

  • Silhouette - bitter cherry

Open-grown

Trunk

  • Fairly straight, slender
  • Distinct to the top of crown
  • Branch-free portion short compared with crown

Crown

  • Narrow, branches ascending

Habitat

Site

  • Moist, sparsely wooded areas along streams and on areas recently cleared
  • Along rivers in the Prairies

Light tolerance

  • Intolerant of shade

Range

Coastal and eastern British Columbia, southward into the United States

Distribution map
Distribution map - bitter cherry
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