13. BLACK CHERRY
Prunus serotina Ehrhart
Black cherry is the largest and most valuable of the cherry trees in New York State. It prefers rich bottomlands and moist hillsides, but is found also in drier situations. It is common in most sections of the state, though seldom found above an altitude of 3000 feet in the Adirondacks. Its wood is light, strong, hard, close-grained with pale reddish brown heartwood and is much in demand for cabinetmaking, interior finishing, tools, ties and fence posts. It is a valuable fast-growing timber and wildlife food tree and should be encouraged in woodlots.
|Bark - at
first smooth, reddish brown in color, marked with easily seen, long, white breathing
pores; with age becoming much roughened by irregular, close, dark scaly circular plates
with upturned edges.
Twigs - slender, smooth, reddish brown in color, having bitter almond taste which is characteristic of all cherries.
Winter buds - smooth, ovate, 1/8 to 1/6 inch long, sharp-pointed, chestnut brown in color; terminal bud present.
Leaves - alternate, simple, 2 to 5 inches long, lanceolate, broader than are those of pin cherry, fairly long-pointed, margin finely serrate, tufts of hair along midrib on undersurface of leaf.
Fruit - a single-seeded juicy fruit, about 1/2 inch in diameter, grouped on very short stems, in long scattered, drooping clusters, purplish black when ripe in late summer. Birds and animals eat the fruit, though its flavor is decidedly bitter.
Distinguishing features - long white pores on young bark; dark scaly, circular, saucer-like plates in older bark; hairy midrib below on leaf; fruit in short-stemmed clusters.