Bird Cherry

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Bird cherry

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Scientific name: Prunus padus
The bird cherry can be found in wet woodlands and along streams in upland areas, in particular. Its fragrant blossom appears in April and is followed by bitter, black fruits - good for wildlife, but not us!

Top facts

Stats

Height: up to 25m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

As its name suggests, the bird cherry is a native tree related to the wild cherry. It can be found in wet woodland or along stream edges and hedgerows. As it can tolerate greater exposure and elevation than wild cherry, it often grows in upland woodlands. Its fragrant flowers appear around April and produce black and bitter fruits. It is a useful tree for a variety of wildlife: the flowers provide nectar and pollen for insects, and the fruit are eaten by birds, badgers and small mammals. Additionally, some moth caterpillars eat the leaves.

What to look for

The bird cherry has dark green, oval leaves that have tufts of white hairs on their undersides when young; the edges of the leaves have fine, sharp serrations and their tips are pointed. The flowers of this plant have five white petals and the fruits are small and dark red or black.

Where to find

Widespread in Scotland, Northern England, Wales and East Anglia, but scarce elsewhere.

Did you know?

The bird cherry has smooth, peeling, grey-brown bark that has an unpleasant, acrid scent. It smells so strong, it was placed on people's doors to ward off the plague!