Sour Cherry

Prunus cerasus L.



All photographs are copyrighted and are the property of E. Brunner.

Family:  Rosaceae

Native or Introduced to Illinois:  introduced

Leaf:   The simple alternate leaf is ovate in shape and has a serrate margin (sometimes double serrate) that are usually wider than high The leaves have pinnate venation.  

Flower:  White flowers that appear in the early spring.

Fruit:  The fruit is a red drupe.  It is edible. 

Bark:  On young stems the bark is grayish brown to red-brown, with prominent white spots.  On older trunks it is dark reddish brown and very rough, breaking into upturned, stiff thin scales.

Size/Form/Shape:   Often appears as a shrub or small tree reaching a height up to 6m or 20 ft.

Other:  Sour cherry. There is good evidence suggesting that P. cerasus arose from an unreduced pollen grain of P. avium crossed with P. fruticosa; this occurred in the same geographic region as for sweet cherry. The sour cherry came to the US with English settlers, like sweet cherries. It is more tolerant of the humid, rainy eastern conditions, and therefore proliferated there more than sweets, where it is still cultivated today in greatest numbers. Sour cherries do not attain good size when grown in arid climates.
Sour cherry growers prefer the term "pie" or "tart" cherry over "sour", since this connotes bad flavor. Most sour cherries are processed into pie fillings, hence the name.

County Distribution Map for Illinois:  


Sources for the Sullivan Middle School Tree Identification Guide were obtained though the use of the following sites: