Native Planto of the Month: Bitter Cherry

Picture of Bitter Cherry.

Common Name: Bitter Cherry

Binomial Name: Prunus emarginata

Soil Type: moist

Sunlight: Intolerant of shade

Form/Growth: Upright single trunked tree

Foliage: Deciduous

Flowering/Fruiting: Yes, both


Bitter cherry trees are found in clear cut areas or areas that have been cleared due to burning. The seeds of a bitter cherry are spread by animals and can survive on forest floors for decades waiting for the ideal moment to sprout into a tree, they are rarely seen in mature forests because of this.

The bark of a bitter cherry is shiny and mostly smooth except for horizontal lenticels that are orange in younger trees and dark reddish-brown in mature trees. The leaves are oval shaped and are 1 to 6 inches long and have a dull yellowish-green color. The flowers are white and appear in clusters of 5 to 12. The Bitter Cherry tree produces bright red smaller sized cherries that have a very bitter taste.