Prunus padus is one of the 4 Prunus species native to the British Isles (the others are Prunus spinosa, the blackthorn, Prunus avium, wild cherry or gean and Prunus domestica, the wild plum, the origin of cultivated plums, damsons and greengages). There are over 400 Prunus species world-wide and many hundreds of cultivars, including all the flowering Japanese cherries as well as plums, cherries, almonds, peaches etc.
In common with most of the genus, Prunus padus has leaves with a toothed margin and has two small glands near the base of the leaf (see below). There are also glands around the edge of the small sepals.
As a native tree the bird cherry is more common in Scotland than in England and favours limestone areas in Ireland. It can form a substantial tree, though not as tall as the wild cherry (Prunus avium). As with most cherries the flowering season is brief, but the bird cherry also has good autumn colour. The bird cherry in Belfast Botanic Gardens was planted close to the boundary fence between the Gardens and Botanic Primary School
Note 2019: unfortunately this tree was removed 2018.
|Bird cherry in Belfast Botanic Gardens in flower||Bird cherry, flowering branch in April|
|Flower racemes of bird cherry||Detail of leaf base showing glands typical of the genus|
|Detail of Prunus padus flower||Glands edging sepal of Prunus padus (arrowed)|
Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2012. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.
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