Content Detail

The Nanking cherry is a lovely ornamental shrub with fragrant white flowers appearing before the leaves. Shiny reddish-brown exfoliating bark and attractive scarlet red fruits adds seasonal interest. Use it as a hedge or spring specimen in the shrub border.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Medium shrub (5-8 feet), Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago)
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Dry sites
  • Season of interest mid spring, midsummer, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, White
  • Shape or form Multi-stemmed, Round
  • Growth rate Fast, Moderate

Size and form:

Nanking cherry is a broad spreading, densely twiggy shrub, becoming more open and picturesque with age. It reaches 6 to 8 feet high and wide.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is native to Japan, China, and Korea.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife:

The fruit in mid-summer attracts birds.

Bark color and texture:

Nanking cherry has shiny, reddish-brown, exfoliating bark. 

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

This shrub has alternate, 2 to 3 inches long serrated leaves that are roughly-veined.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

It produces early pink buds that change to fragrant white flowers.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Attractive, edible, scarlet-red fruits appear in mid-summer.

Plant care:

This shrub prefers full sun and loose, loamy, well-drained soil. It is wind and drought tolerant once established.

List of pests and diseases:

It is often short lived and prone to insect and disease problems, including black knot, verticillium wilt, and borers.


Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift