|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|The Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) is a species of cherry, native to Europe, northwest Africa, and western Asia, from the British Isles south to Morocco and Tunisia, and east to southern Sweden, Poland, Ukraine, the Caucasus, and northern Iran, with a small disjunct population in the western Himalaya. It is a deciduous tree growing to 15-32 m tall, with a trunk up to 1.5 m diameter. Young trees show strong apical dominance with a straight trunk and symmetrical conical crown, becoming rounded to irregular on old trees. The bark is smooth purplish-brown with prominent horizontal grey-brown lenticels on young trees, becoming thick dark blackish-brown and fissured on old trees. The leaves are alternate, simple ovoid-acute, 7–14 cm long and 4–7 cm broad, glabrous matt or sub-shiny green above, variably finely downy beneath, with a serrated margin and an acuminate tip, with a green or reddish petiole 2–3.5 cm long bearing two to five small red glands. In autumn, the leaves turn orange, pink or red before falling. The flowers are produced in early spring at the same time as the new leaves, borne in corymbs of two to six together, each flower pendent on a 2–5 cm peduncle, 2.5–3.5 cm diameter, with five pure white petals, yellowish stamens, and a superior ovary; they are hermaphroditic, and pollinated by bees. The fruit is a drupe 1–2 cm in diameter (larger in some cultivated selections), bright red to dark purple when mature in mid summer, edible, variably sweet to somewhat astringent and bitter to eat fresh; it contains a single hard-shelled stone 8–12 mm long, 7–10 mm wide and 6–8 mm thick, grooved along the flattest edge; the seed (kernel) inside the stone is 6–8 mm long. The fruit are readily eaten by numerous birds and mammals, which digest the fruit flesh and disperse the seeds in their droppings. Some rodents, and a few birds (notably the Hawfinch), also crack open the stones to eat the kernel inside. All parts of the plant except for the ripe fruit are slightly toxic, containing cyanogenic glycosides.|
The tree exudes a gum from wounds in the bark, by which it seals the wounds to exclude insects and fungal infections.
Wild Cherry has been known as Gean or Mazzard, both largely obsolete names in modern English, though more recently 'Mazzard' has been used to refer to a selected self-fertile cultivar that comes true from seed, and which is used as a seedling rootstock for fruiting cultivars. The name "wild cherry" has also been applied in a general or colloquial sense to other species of Prunus growing in their native habitats, particularly to Black Cherry Prunus serotina.
Some eighteenth and nineteenth century botanical authors ascribed an origin to western Asia based on the writings of Pliny; however, archaeological finds of seeds from prehistoric Europe contradict this view (see below).
JPlumb has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.