Pin cherry

Pin cherry

name = Pin Cherry

image_width = 250px
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Magnoliophyta
classis = Magnoliopsida
ordo = Rosales
familia = Rosaceae
subfamilia = Prunoideae
genus = "Prunus"
subgenus = "Cerasus"
species = "P. pensylvanica"
binomial = "Prunus pensylvanica"
binomial_authority = L.

The pin cherry or fire cherry ("Prunus pensylvanica") is a species in the genus "Prunus". The pin cherry can be found from Newfoundland and southern Labrador, crossing Canada to the west and reaching British Columbia and the southern Northwest Territories. Additionally it is very common in New England and the Lake States and is not very common south of Pennsylvania; there it is only found in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee. Scattered growth of the pin cherry also occurs in the Rocky Mountains, south to Colorado and southeast to the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The pin cherry is a shrub or small tree and usually has a straight trunk and a narrow, round-topped crown. It grows 5-15 m (15-50 ft) tall and 10-51 cm (4-20 inches) in diameter. Trees up to 30 m (100 ft) tall have been found growing in the southern Appalachians, with the largest found on the western slopes of the Great Smoky Mountains. Its foliage is thin, with leaves 4-11 cm (1.5-4.3 inches) long and 1-4.5 cm (0.5-1.75 inches) wide. Flowers are fond in small groupings of five to seven with individual flowers 1 cm (0.4 inches) across. The fruit are drupes, ranging from 4-8 mm (0.15-0.3 inches), containing seeds that are 4-6 mm (0.15-0.24 inches) in diameter with a thick seed coat. The plant's root system is shallow and its roots tend to grow laterally. The pin cherry is rather short lived; it matures rapidly and has a lifespan of 20-40 years.


The pin cherry can regenerate by seed and sprout. Its flowers are bisexual and pollinated by insects. Seeds are dispersed by birds, small mammals, and gravity. As part of its reproductive strategy, pin cherry maintains a bank of seeds in the soil that remain viable for many years. Seeds accumulate over prolonged periods, up to 50 years, and seed banks may be viable for 50-100 years. Asexual reproduction is achieved by sprouting, and often thickets of pin cherry plants form.

Fire ecology

The pin cherry has adapted to fire ecology by establishing a soil seed bank that germinates rapidly following fire and other disturbance. Though pin cherry is reportedly killed by fire, it is documented to sprout following cutting. Pin cherry seed survives most forest fires, and seeds which may be dormant for many years are stimulated to germination by the altered conditions after fire. Combined with the rapid initial growth of pin cherry seedlings, this characteristic enables pin cherry to dominate many burned-over areas, particularly in the northern hardwood forest.


Pin cherry is an important food source for many animals. Winter moose browse it in the Great Lake states and boreal forest region.

Pin cherry currently has little commercial value, though recent interest in commercial production of pin cherry fruit has emerged. The fruit is edible and can be used in jams, jellies and preserves.

Pin cherry wood is light, moderately soft, porous, and low in strength giving it little commercial value. In general, pin cherry is not used for lumber and is considered a noncommercial species. It occurs in abundance, however, over a wide range of sites and produces large quantities of biomass in a relatively short time. The species has been described as well adapted to intensive management and chip harvesting on short rotations for fiber and fuel.

The pin cherry serves as foodplant for varíous Lepidoptera. See List of Lepidoptera which feed on "Prunus".


* [ SPECIES: Prunus pensylvanica] US Forestry Service's Fire Effects Information System reference

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.