Bitter cherry

Prunus emarginata
Bitter cherry Bitter cherry

A shrub or small tree, up to 9 metres tall; straight, slender trunk, extending up to the narrow crown.

Bitter cherry leaves and fruit

Small, oval-shaped leaves, tapered towards the tip; 2 to 8 centimetres long, yellowish-green, thin, with uneven-sized teeth on the edges.

Small, white flowers in loose clusters of 5 to 12.

Dark red, with a juicy but bitter flesh, 5 to 12 millimetres across.

Bitter cherry bark

Greyish or reddish, peeling horizontally like paper birch; large, widely spaced, orange horizontal slits (called lenticels); bitter tasting.

Where to find bitter cherry
It occurs throughout southern British Columbia, except for the dry Interior portions.

Bitter cherry is common in moist deciduous forests and open woods, along streams and on recently disturbed areas. It prefers moist, nutrient-rich sites.

Aboriginal people ate the fruit of the bitter cherry only occasionally because of its unpleasant taste. Because the bark is tough and waterproof, they peeled it off in long horizontal or spiral strips and used it for basket-making. They also softened it by pounding to make twine for baskets and mats and for tying together joints in house-building.

Prunus is Latin for plum.

Where to find bitter cherry

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