Western choke cherry

  • Latin name: Prunus virginiana var. demissa L.
  • French name: Cerisier du Pacifique
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 529893
Description

Leaves

  • Leaf - western choke cherry

Form

  • Oval, rounded at the base
  • Widest above the middle
  • Thin; abruptly tapering at the tip
  • Lower surface downy

Length

  • 5–10 cm

Colour

  • Upper surface dark green

Margin

  • Teeth sharp, closely spaced, 4–5 per vein
  • Each tooth ends in a straight hair-like point

Buds

  • Lateral bud and leaf scar - western choke cherry

Form

  • Sharp-pointed, diverging slightly from the twig

Length

  • 3–4 mm

Colour

  • Scales dark brown with pale edges

Twigs

Form

  • Slender to moderately stout, smooth
  • Young twigs downy
  • Only member of the genus without a greyish skin that wears off
  • Very strong bitter almond odour when bruised

Colour

  • Greyish-brown

Flowers

Form

  • In elongated, dense, cylindrical clusters at the end of new short leafy shoots

Length

  • 8–15 cm
  • Flower stalks 5–6 mm

Structure

  • Synoecious

Floral timing

  • Before the new leaves are fully developed

Fruits

  • Fruit - western choke cherry

Form

  • In elongated drooping clusters of 6–12 fruits
  • Often with several irregular stems
  • Astringent
  • Minute remnant of flower calyx at the base of each fruit

Width

  • 8–10 mm

Colour

  • Almost black

Timing

  • Ripen in August or early September

Bark

Form

  • Smooth or with fine scales
  • Lenticels prominent but not extended horizontally as in most species of Prunus

Colour

  • Dark greyish-brown, with age becoming almost black

Size

Height

  • To 9 m

Diameter

  • 15 cm

Tree form

Open-grown

Trunk

  • Slender, often inclined, crooked and twisted

Crown

  • Branches slender, upright to slightly spreading

Habitat

Site

  • Rich, moist soils, such as along fencerows and streams, on cleared land, bordering wooded areas

Light tolerance

  • Relatively intolerant of shade

Range

Interior of British Columbia

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