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Common Name:

Black Cherry

Scientific Name:

Prunus serotina

Family Name:



Black Cherry is a wide ranging medium to large size deciduous North American tree that has several varieties indigenous to Texas. While the messy red-purple fruit makes Black Cherry a marginal ornamental shade tree, the wood is valued in furniture and panel crafting and is important for wildlife food and shelter. Farmers and ranchers watch for downed cherry trees and remove them immediately as the wilted leaves contain high levels of hydrogen cyanide producing compounds that can be fatal to livestock if consumed.

Plant Habit or Use:

Medium tree, large tree



Flower Color:


Blooming Period:


Fruit Characteristics:

Small clusters of small purple-black to red-black cherries, fleshy part of fruit used as a culinary flavoring


60 ft to 80 ft (rarely 120 ft)


30 ft to 50 ft

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: Low Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: High Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: High Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: High Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: High Fertility Requirements
Explanation of the Earth–Kind® Index breakdown

Firewise Index

Explanation of the Firewise Index numerical value

USDA Hardiness Zones:

4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Regions that intersect these hardiness zones:
Region A - Panhandle and High Plains Region B - North and Central Texas Region C - Northeast and East Texas Region D - West Texas Region E - Upper Rio Grande Region F - Hill Country and Central Coast Region G - Southeast Texas Region H - Rio Grande Valley
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

Several naturally occurring varieties of the species exist in various portions of Texas and if utilized in cultivated landscapes it would probably be wise to use seedlings from the regional variety.
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A Special Note about Cool Season Annuals

Cool season annuals typically are planted in the fall or early winter and flower in early spring under moderate temperatures. This group of plant materials includes: pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, flowering cabbage/kale, etc. Because cool season annuals flower in the spring when conditions are mild, most have limited heat tolerance.

As a result cool season annuals do not receive a high Earth–Kind® index despite their outstanding landscape qualities.