Content Detail

Pin cherry is a fast-growing, small, slender tree reaching 30 feet tall with a narrow crown, often forming dense colonies. This short-lived tree is often found growing in sunny, dry soils and one of the first trees to appear after fires. Attractive, reddish brown bark is marked with horizontal bands of orange-colored lenticels. Difficult to find in nursery trade. Native to Midwest. This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Small tree (15-25 feet), Medium tree (25-40 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 2, Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois)
  • Soil preference Moist, Sandy soil, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, mid spring, late summer, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, White
  • Shape or form Columnar, Narrow, Thicket-forming
  • Growth rate Fast

Size & Form:

A small, narrow tree or shrub that is 25 to 30 feet high and 18 to 25 feet wide with horizontal branches.

Native geographic location and habitat:

C-Value: 5. Pin cherry is native to the upper Midwest in dry open fields and  wood edge clearings.

Bark color and texture:

Young bark is a shiny reddish-bronze color. Mature bark develops dark red horizontal lenticels.

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

The green leaves are alternate, simple, with finely serrated margins, and 3 to 5 inches long and 1 to 1/2 inch wide. Fall color is yellow to red.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

It displays clusters of 1/2 inch wide fragrant, white flowers.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The fruit is a small, 1/4 inch bright red shiny fleshy berry (drupe).

Plant care:

Pin cherry is generally not recommended because it is a short-lived tree. It grows best in cool climates in full sun and well-drained sandy soils and is one of the first trees to invade recently disturbed sites forming dense thickets.

List of pests, diseases, tolerances and resistance:

Susceptible to fire blight, canker, and borer. Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.


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