Content Detail

Purple sand cherry is a widely planted, deciduous, small tree. It has an upright, spreading habit, with reddish-purple foliage and fragrant whitish-pink flowers. It is short-lived and prone to significant insect and disease problems.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Tree or plant type Tree, Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Compact tree (10-15 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, White
  • Shape or form Narrow, Oval
  • Growth rate Fast

Size & Form: 

Purple sand cherry is an upright, large shrub or small tree reaching 7 to 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide.

Native geographic location and habitat: 

Native to western Asia and Caucasia.

Bark color and texture: 

Often multi-trunked, young stems are reddish-brown changing to gray-brown at maturity.

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

The alternate leaves are 2 inches long, and elliptical in shape with serrated margins. The petiole has two glands on the top near the leaf blade. New leaves emerge reddish-purple and remain crimson red throughout the summer in sunny sites, bronzy-green in part-shade conditions.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Solitary, pinkish-white, fragrant flowers emerge with the new leaves.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

The fruit is a drupe that ripens and turns blue-black in July.


Plant care:

Purple sand cherry grows best in full sun to part shade in average, well-drained soil.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

This is a short-lived tree because of numerous insect and disease problems, including cankers, frost cracks, borers, aphids, scale insects, and Japanese beetles. Moderately tolerant of aerial salt spray.


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