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Native Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) Bird Cherry (Prunus padus)


 
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James Kilkelly
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Joined: 30 May 2006
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Location: West of Ireland

PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:11 pm    Post subject: Native Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) Bird Cherry (Prunus padus) Reply with quote

Native Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) Bird Cherry (Prunus padus)

The cherry tree is not something you would associate with Ireland.
Even so, we happen to have two native cherries, Prunus avium and Prunus padus.



Wild Cherry ... Prunus avium ... silíní fiáin
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Prunoideae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Cerasus
Species: P. avium

Prunus avium, our common cherry, also know as wild cherry, gean or mazzard can be found growing mainly by stream-sides in limestone areas. It shows it's round head in fair quantities throughout our hedgerows and on the outskirts of wooded areas, where direct sunlight is assured. Unhampered by surrounding growth and planted in fertile, moist soil, this deciduous open-branched tree grows quickly to 15 metres tall, often reaching up to 25m tall.

Although a rough and tough native, it is one of my favourite ornamentals because of its decorative flowers and fruit. The 5-petalled white blossoms are long-lasting throughout April and May, followed by the fruits in July, which resemble delicious dark red cherries, what else. Beware though, this fruit usually tastes somewhere between sour and bitter to us humans, birds however, will quickly gorge themselves on the lush fruit. You often have to be very quick or lucky to savour the fruits visual and taste experience before the bird's strip the trees yearly crop. Prunus avium (wild cherry) is the cherry species from which most of our sweet cherry tree cultivars are derived.

Growing alongside the trees flowers and fruit are its leaves, simple light green foliage with serrated edges and slight hairs beneath. These leaves offer good autumn/winter colouration when combined with the wild cherry trees reddish brown bark, interestingly marked with horizontal lines.




Bird cherry ... Prunus padus ... Donnroisc
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Prunoideae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Padus
Species: P. padus

Prunus padus, the second and scarcer of our native cherries is also known as the hackberry (hag berry) or bird cherry, again because only the birds will eat its bitter cherries in their raw form. Each June and July, our birds, primarily starlings, pigeons, robins and thrushes devour the small, black fruits despite their sourness and hard, stone fruit interior.

Size wise, the bird Cherry is much smaller than the Wild Cherry and rarely exceeds 12 metres in height and 8 metres in spread
It has similar 5-petalled white blossoms to Prunus avium, but these blooms are smaller and displayed in drooping spikes containing 10 to 40 flowers. They open in May with a quite aggressive and somewhat off-putting almond scent, attractive to many insects including flies and bees. Similarly, the peeling bark of the bird cherry is quite pungent with a scent reminiscent of bitter almond. The leaves of the bird cherry resemble those of the wild cherry with their small, sharp teeth edging the leaf margins, however, bird cherry leaves are hairless underneath.
Bird cherry thrives on acid soils, often close by the moist soil of birch woods. Similar to wild cherry, the bird cherry will not thrive in heavy shade, instead favouring sunlit woodland edges and gardens. Please bear this in mind if planting either of our two native cherries, and also that they dislike exposure to strong winds, which invariably destroys flowers and in turn fruits.

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Wild Cherry & Bird Cherry Images courtesy
Zelimir Borzan, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Gil Wojciech, Polish Forest Research Institute, Poland
Michael Shephard, USDA Forest Service, United States
www.forestryimages.org

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Last edited by James Kilkelly on Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Arthur Two Sheds Jackson
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Location: Kerry (north)

PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 2:29 pm    Post subject: Where to buy? Reply with quote

I'm wondering if you know where to buy these and other tree seeds from an Irish online seller?
Thanks in advance

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medieval knievel
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

future forests:

http://www.futureforests.net/frames.htm
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Arthur Two Sheds Jackson
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 5:02 pm    Post subject: Thanks Reply with quote

thank you medieval knievel, much appreciated
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jcb
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:14 am    Post subject: Saplings Reply with quote

Hi,

I'd like to plant a Prunus avium. Anyone know where I can get a sapling? I'm living in the Dunboyne area.

Thanks,

John.
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gerwil
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey folks,

I have a Prunus avium ready to be planted and am not too sure where to plant it,

I was wondering if it'd safe to plant reasonably close to a house? say 5-10m from it, the soil is wettish but not very bad, its a somewhat exposed site.

Does this sound anyway suitable or would it be liable to damage the house at this distance either from the roots or from falling in wind, the house is a bungalow so would it get much taller than it.

Sorry for all the questions but I want to find a suitable spot for this lovely tree.
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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

10 metres should be nearly fine gerwil.
The upper height of Prunus avium is approx 12 metres over many years, so if you could go to the outer limits of 10 metres and beyond then you would sleep that bit sounder on a windy night. Wink

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gerwil
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks James,

I think the max I can go is about 9 so hopefully it'll be okay, the soil is fairly good so the roots should get a good hold anyway.
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