Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

Pin Cherry, Fire Cherry, Bird Cherry, Wild Red Cherry

Pin Cherry, Fire Cherry, Bird Cherry, Wild Red Cherry

Prunus pensylvanica

Full sun; medium to moderately dry moisture level; grows in a range of soils including coarse sands and gravels, sandy and gravelly loams, and medium loams to moderately fine sandy loams; slightly acid to neutral pH.

25-40 feet height by 18-25 feet spread; white flowers ½ inch across in flat-topped clusters in early May after leaves emerge; fruits are bright red, ½ inch in diameter, on long stalks in late summer into fall.

Growth Rate: Fast. May form thickets.

Maintenance: Many insect and disease problems. Low strength wood so breakage is common.

Propagation: Seed germination code E. Moderately easy from seed.

Native Region: Limited to 7 counties in Blue Ridge Province – Monroe, Sevier, Cocke, Greene, Unicoi, Carter and Johnson

Small, slender, often shrubby understory tree with branches spreading at a broad angle. Has fine textured bright red branches, attractive metallic, coppery red bark and one of the best fall colors of any of the cherries, often a striking orange. Called Fire Cherry because its seedlings come up after forest fires. Serves as a pioneer species providing cover and shade for the establishment of seedlings of the next generation of larger hardwoods and usually disappears after 20 years. Very adaptable species. Usually found on infertile rocky ledges, sandy plains as well as on loamy soils. Should not be planted in heavy clay. Leaves are poisonous to livestock under certain conditions.

Very high wildlife value. Attracts many songbirds, game birds, and small and large mammals which eat the fruit. Buds and foliage eaten by upland game birds and deer. Attracts butterflies and bees.


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