Keystone Value: The genus Prunus (Cherry) supports over 450 species of butterfly and moth caterpillars, providing food for a variety of birds and mammals.
Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) is a medium to large fast-growing tree that naturally occurs in thickets, woodlands, canyons, and floodplains. Its most striking ornamental quality is the 4-6″ long, drooping, showy racemes of small, white, lacelike flowers that appear in the spring. These prolific flowers are an important nectar and pollen source for native bees and other pollinators. Black Cherry is a host to the Columbia Silkmoth (pictured above), among hundreds of others. The reddish black berries that appear in August and September feed a variety of birds and mammals. The berries are edible* for humans, too, and can be eaten raw or made into wine and jelly. Juice from the berries can be used as a drink mixer, hence the name “Rum Cherry”, another common name for the Black Cherry tree. In fall, the leaves range in color from yellow to orange to red.
*Please note: While the berries are edible, the remainder of the tree can be considered toxic, especially the wilted leaves.