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Quick facts

Common names: cherry plum, myrobalan plum

Scientific name: Prunus cerasifera

Family: Rosaceae

Origin: non-native

Cherry plum is a broadleaf deciduous tree and one of the first Prunus species to flower in spring. It can grow to 8m. Its bark is dark grey and develops fissures with age, and its twigs are green and covered in a fine down when young.

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

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

What does cherry plum look like?

Cherry plum single leaf on white background

Credit: Nature Photographers Ltd / WTML

Leaves

Green, slender and glossy, with fine hairs on the underside.

Cherry plum close-up of blossom lowers

Credit: Nature Photographers Ltd / WTML

Flowers

White, and usually grow singularly in late winter to early spring.

Cherry plum ripe red fruits

Credit: Volodymyr Chaban / Alamy Stock Photo

Fruits

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

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Did you know?

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

Where to find cherry plum

Native to southeast Europe and western Asia, cherry plum has naturalised in the UK.

Value to wildlife

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

Cherry plum flowers close-up

Credit: Christine Whitehead / Alamy Stock Photo

Uses of cherry plum

Cherry plum flowers were used by Dr Edward Bach to create a remedy for people in fear of losing control of their behaviour, and are still used in Bach Flower Remedies today. Cherry plum is often grown as an ornamental tree for its early display of flowers or as a fruiting hedge. Young trees are regularly used as understocks (a root which another plant is grafted on to) for domestic plums. Its fruits can be eaten or used to make jams and wines.

Threats and conservation

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