Pin cherry

Prunus pensylvanica
Pin cherry Pin cherry

A shrub to small tree, usually 1 to 5 metres tall, but can reach 12 metres in height. The trunk is straight, with a narrow, rounded crown; when it grows in the open, it has a short trunk with a flat-topped crown; the crown is much reduced when it grows in the shade of a forest.

Pin cherry leaves and flowers

Leaves
Oval- to narrow-shaped, gradually tapering to a sharp tip, 8 to 10 centimetres long; thin, with round-toothed edges, shiny yellowish-green on both surfaces; two small glands on the leaf stalk at the base of the leaf.

Flowers
Small and white in flat-topped clusters of 5 to 7.

Pin cherry fruit
Fruit
Small, round, bright red cherries, with a sour-tasting flesh, 5 millimetres in diameter.
Pin cherry bark Bark
Dark reddish-brown, with large, widely-spaced, orange horizontal slits (lenticels); peels in horizontal strips.

Where to find pin cherry
It is common east of the Coast and Cascade mountains at low elevations, south of Fort St. John.

Habitat
Pin cherry occurs in dry to moist open forests and clearings; it commonly occurs after fire or other disturbances.

Because the berries are a favourite of many birds, it is often difficult to find ripe fruit on the trees.

Uses
Pin cherries were eaten by several First Nations peoples, depending on their local abundance, but the cherries did not dry well. They also used the bark for decorating baskets.

Where to find pin cherry
Pin cherries make good jelly.

Notes
Pin cherry probably interbreeds with bitter cherry in areas in central British Columbia where their ranges overlap.

Pin cherry stones and leaves contain toxic cyanide, but the flesh is not harmful.Caution

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