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Cherry, plum (Prunus cerasifera)

Cherry plum is a broadleaf deciduous tree native to south-east Europe and western Asia, but has naturalised in the UK.

Common name: cherry plum

Scientific name: Prunus cerasifera
Family: Rosaceae

UK provenance: non-native

Interesting fact: the second part of the scientific name, cerasifera, means 'bearing cherry-like fruits'.

What does cherry plum look like? 

Overview:  it is one of the first prunus species to flower in spring and can grow to eight metres. The bark is dark grey and develops fissures with age, and twigs are green and covered in a fine down when young.

Leaves: green, slender and glossy, with fine hairs on the underside. 

Flowers: white, and usually grow singularly in late-winter to early spring. 

Fruits: after pollination by insects, the flowers develop into yellow or red cherry-like fruits. 

Look out for: the leaf stems (petioles) have two red glands at the top.

Could be confused with: wild cherry (Prunus avium), sour cherry (Prunus cerasus) and bird cherry (Prunus padus).

Identified in winter by: buds on winter twigs have very small or indistinct bud scales.

Where to find cherry plum

Native to Europe and Asia, cherry plum is often planted for fruiting hedges.

Value to wildlife

Flowers are attractive to bees and other insects. Birds eat the ripe fruits. 

Mythology and symbolism

Cherry plum flowers were used by Dr Edward Bach to create a remedy for people in fear losing control of their behaviour, and are still used in Bach Flower Remedies today. 

How we use cherry plum

Cherry plum is often grown as an ornamental tree for its early display of flowers. Young trees are often used as understocks (a root which another plant is grafted on to) for domestic plums.

Threats

Like many trees in the Prunus genus, cherry plum may be susceptible to fungal diseases.

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