Cherry trees are thought to be the most ornamental of our native broadleaf woodland trees.
Scientific name: Prunus avium Family: Rosaceae
Although the seeds are distributed by mammals and birds, cherry trees can also propagate themselves by root suckers.
Mature cherry trees can grow to 30m and live for up to 60 years. The shiny bark is a deep reddish-brown with prominent cream-coloured horizontal lines. The second part of its botanical name – ‘avium’ refers to birds, who eat the cherries and disperse the seed. In Scotland, cherry is sometimes referred to as ‘gean’.
Leaves: oval, green and toothed with pointed tips, measuring 6–15cm with two red glands on the stalk at the leaf base. They fade to orange and deep crimson in autumn.
Flowers: cherry trees are hermaphrodite, meaning the male and female reproductive parts are found in the same flower. Flowers are white and cup-shaped with five petals, and measure 8-15mm across. They hang in clusters of 2-6.
Fruits: after pollination by insects, the flowers develop into globular, hairless deep red cherries.
Planting cherry trees requires well-drained, fertile soil. They also require about eight hours of sunlight daily, so don’t plant them where they will grow in the shade of other trees. The blossoms of the growing cherry trees are very susceptible to frost damage, which lowers your fruit crop. If planting the sweet variety, at least a couple of trees will be needed for proper pollination. Have the trees pruned so they produce a good harvest of fruit. Properly pruned cherry trees produce better and more fruit.