Is this Choke Cherry?

Discussion in 'Plants: Identification' started by ndnewbie, Jul 22, 2009.

  1. ndnewbie

    ndnewbie Member

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    We have several of these trees around our property. In the spring the trees had small white flowers that smelled sweet. Now the trees have strings of small red berries. I have not opened any of the berries. My husband grew up in the area and says they look like what he remembers as choke cherries.
     

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  2. mywan

    mywan Active Member

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    This looks like Prunus serotina (black cherry tree) to me. If so the cherries a very bitter and mostly seed, but make the best jelly of any fruit on Earth.

    Edit: A pic showing more of the tree itself would probably provide more certainty in my guess.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2009
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Leaves too wide for black cherry. Tree is chokecherry or similar bird cherry (Prunus padus). These last are told apart on the basis of specific anatomical features. Bird cherry is naturalized some places, otherwise the widespread North American cherry with this appearance is chokecherry.
     
  4. ndnewbie

    ndnewbie Member

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    Can't really get a picture of tree that would be useful. The tree is crowded in with others so you can't really see the tree itself.

    If this is choke cherry, can the berries be eaten?
     
  5. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    You can eat them, but they'll make you choke!
     
  6. mywan

    mywan Active Member

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    I think you are probably right. It's easy to get perspective, scale, and color balance off in a picture. I have no experience with chokecherry. I wonder how similar the jelly is.

     
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    They'll be good for making jelly - the astringence of the raw fruit is lost in cooking up with lots of sugar.

    Wait until the cherries are fully red before harvesting.
     
  8. Kara

    Kara Active Member

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  9. claydigger

    claydigger Member

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    Wait til the berries are black and add a little lemon juice to make jelly or syrup
     
  10. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Bailey (1949) describes the leaves of P. serotina as

    oblong to oblong-lanceolate to oval, 2-6 in. long, stiff and firm at maturity, acuminate, mostly narrowed at base, serrate with appressed incurved callous teeth, shining above, lighter colored and nearly or quite glabrous beneath

    The hardness and glossiness of the leaves are key features. In addition to their luster the acuminate shape of the leaves forms a dominating impression when viewing the often large-growing tree.
     
  11. mywan

    mywan Active Member

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    This is some pics of a P. serotina in my yard. Ripeness peaks here on about the 4th of July, but I would expect it to be a bit later in ND. #2 is of the trunk, but in younger trees it can be a far smoother texture. The leaves do appear to be narrower in these pics.
     

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  12. tbcgron

    tbcgron Active Member

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    both jelly and syrup are wonderful. Don't make it too sweet and try the syrup on pancakes with maple syrup together. Mmmmm.
     

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