Bird cherries

Bird cherry - Prunus padus
Virginian bird cherry - Prunus virginiana

Bird cherry: tree 10–20m tall, the bark has an unpleasant, acrid scent. Flowers 15mm across, ripe fruit 6–8mm long and black.

Virginian bird cherry: tree up to 5m tall and conical in shape, the bark has no unpleasant smell. Flowers 10mm across, ripe fruit 10mm, red or black.

ID check

  1. Leaves are alternate in arrangement, not divided into leaflets and are deciduous.
  2. Leaves are toothed.
  3. Twigs are not thorny.
  4. Flowers and fruits are in an elongated spike.
  5. Flowers are less than 10mm in diameter. The petals are broadly oval.
  6. Fruits are juicy and smooth at the apex.



Bird cherry tree

Bird cherry tree © GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2


Small trees but capable of reaching 20m tall.


Brown or grey and may be unpleasant-smelling.


Slightly leathery. The edges have fine, slender teeth and the apex has a short, slender tip. They are hairless or have whitish hairs on the underside of the leaf either side of the central vein - sometimes only as tufts where veins join.

Flower spikes

They are 7–15cm long, cylinder-shaped and with leaves at the base of the spike.


White and fragrant.


There are 2 or more.

Ripe fruit

They are 6–10mm across, red or black and very astringent. Sepals are usually present on the ripe fruit. There are 2 or more seeds.


Bird cherry leaf

Bird cherry leaf.

© USDA Forest Service
Bird cherry flower

Bird cherry flower.

© Nova, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License
Bird cherry

Bird cherry tree.

© GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2


These explain some of the important tree and plant parts mentioned on these factsheets.


Diagram of a flower showing the stigma, stamen, style, petal and sepal

Leaf parts

Diagram of a leaf showing the apex, margin, midrib, vein and stalk