Black cherry is a native North American tree that has also become established in other parts of the world as a result of early visitors to the New World transporting plants to new locations. The trees produce attractive, glossy foliage on arching branches followed by fragrant clusters of fragrant white flowers in spring. Unlike other common cherry species, the flowers appear after the leaves emerge. The fruits start out red and eventually mature to a deep black-red. The foliage turns yellow with a touch of red in the fall.
Black cherry fruits are bitter if eaten fresh from the tree but they are often used for syrups, jams and jellies, and for flavoring liquors such as rum, whiskey, brandy and wines. The hard, red-tinted wood of the black cherry tree is prized for use in making furniture, tool handles, gun stocks, and musical instruments.
The bark, roots, twigs and leaves of the black cherry tree contain cyanogenic compounds that are toxic to humans and plant-eating animals. Do not consume any of these parts of the tree.
A good specimen plant and a great tree for small spaces. Black cherry is also a good choice for a butterfly garden as it is a host plant for several butterfly species including: Viceroys, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Wild Cherry Sphinx Moth, and Promethea Moth. A host plant is where butterflies lay their eggs and the plant then provides food for the emerging caterpillars.
Birds and other wildlife will feed on the cherries. Recommend planting within viewing distance of a patio or deck, but not right next to them to avoid unnecessary messes from feeding activities and dropping fruit.