Rum cherry

Prunus serotina

ID check

  1. Flowers in spikes of 10 or more.
  2. Leaves with rusty- or orange-coloured hairs beneath.


Rum cherry tree

Rum cherry tree © Barbara Tokarska-Guzik, University of Silesia,


15–20m tall.


Dark grey to almost black, peeling in small strips and with a bitter, aromatic smell.


Broadest above the middle, margins with fine, forward-pointing teeth and an apex with a short, tapering tip. On underside of the leaf there are rusty-coloured hairs on either side of the midrib.

Flower spikes

10–15cm long, cylindrical, with leaves at the base of the spike.


White, 8mm, the petals minutely toothed.

Ripe fruit

8mm, black, retaining triangular, sharp-pointed sepals at the tip.


The rum cherry is supposedly named because of its use to flavour rum and brandy. It is unusual among cherries in retaining the sepals on the ripe fruit.

In the UK, the rum cherry is mostly planted as an ornamental tree. In Europe it is sometimes planted for timber.


Rum cherry bark

Rum cherry bark.

© Keith Kanoti, Maine Forest Service,
Rum cherry leaves

Rum cherry leaves have rusty or orange-coloured hairs either side of the midrib.

© Bill Cook, Michigan State University,
Rum cherry tree

Rum cherry tree.

© Barbara Tokarska-Guzik, University of Silesia,


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