Pin Cherry Tree Uses and Interesting Facts

Pin Cherry Tree Uses and Interesting Facts

Pin Cherry Tree Facts

Pin cherry, Prunus pensylvanica, is a member of the Rose family (Rosaceae). It is also known by the name of fire cherry, due to its tendency to colonize areas after a fire, making it a valuable pioneer species. Pin cherry trees are shade intolerant, so they grow well in open areas such as fields and in dry soils. This tree species grows quickly, provides shade for seedlings of other species during its short life span of 20 – 40 years. The height of pin cherry trees usually does not exceed 30 feet.

pin cherry tree in Minnesota


Interesting Facts

  • Pin cherry is also called “bird cherry” due to the fact that birds often eat the cherries that grow on pin cherry trees
  • The fruit (seed) of the pin cherry tree is called a drupe. Other species that produce drupes include coffee, mango, olives, peaches, and plums.
  • Wild cherries are high in vitamin C.
  • Although generally cherry wood is expensive and desired, pin cherry wood is not commercially valuable due to its softness and porosity
  • When the bark of any cherry tree is scraped, a cough-syrup-like scent is released.
  • Pin cherry stones (the hard center of the cherry) and leaves of the tree contain cyanide, but the flesh is edible. Pin cherry leaves are less toxic than those of most other cherry species.
  • Birds regurgitate the cherry stones after consuming the flesh.
  • Cattle have been known to get sick and even die by eating wilted cherry leaves, because they are a source of hydrocyanic acid. Wilted leaves are more toxic than fresh because the concentration of cyanide is higher.

Uses of Pin Cherry    

  • Due to its ability to grow quickly, pin cherry reduces the chances of soil erosion and minimizes loss of soil nutrients.
  • The pitted fruits can be used in jellies, jams, juice, tea, breakfast syrup, and desserts.
  • Pin cherry trees provide food for many species of animals, including Ruffed Grouse, white-tailed deer, at least 25 species of non-game birds, and many species of Lepidoptera. This makes it an excellent species to watch if you are looking for wildlife.
  • A recipe for cough syrup can be created using the juice of pin cherries.
  • The flesh of pin cherries can be used as a flavoring for whiskey or brandy.
  • If you can gather enough of the little drupes, a delicious wilderness pin cherry wine can be created.
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1 Comment

  1. Jim Reed
    Sep 30, 2013

    do you have a recipe for pin cherry wine?


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