|Prunus serotina||Rum Cherry; Black Cherry|
Origin: E USA, Mexico & Guatemala
This member of the cherry group is planted as a street tree in Belfast, where its tall head covered in nodding white flower-spikes can be seen in mid-summer. In its native habitats this is a large tree, up to 30 m tall, but here will usually grow up to about 16 m. The leaves are 5-15 x 2-4 cm, shallowly toothed, with hairs on the mid-rib; they are shiny green, looking rather like Portugal laurel. The flowers, produced in late May and early June, are small and white, and are borne on a cylindrical raceme which is 10-15 cm tall. The fruits are black and slightly flattened like an orange; they are used for flavouring rum and brandy, and said to be as good as Morello cherries for this. Its timber is used by cabinet-makers.
There are several named cultivars, including 'Asplenifolia' with deeply cut, narrow leaves; 'Pendula', a slow-growing form with drooping branches and twigs; 'Pyramidalis' of conical habit; 'Phelloides', with pendulous branches and the leaves hanging loosely and pendulous like those of a willow.
Introduced in 1629.
Prunus is the old Latin name for the plums and cherries; serotina (from sero – late) refers to the lateness of the flowering.