Prunus emarginata
Common name: 
Bitter Cherry
Wild Cherry
Quinine Cherry
PROO-nus e-mar-jin-NAY-tuh
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  •  Deciduous, thicket forming shrubs or small trees, 7-50 ft (2-15 m) tall, slender crown, branches upright, bark reddish-brown or grayish-bronze, smooth, prominent horizontal lenticels.  Leaf blades 2-6 cm long, ovate or elliptic, finely toothed, generally 1-2 glands on the base near where it meets the petiole, dark green and smooth above, paler below.  Flowers, white, 12 mm wide, 5 notched petals, in small clusters (corymbs).  Fruit ovoid, 8-10 mm in diameter, round, red or black, thick skin, very bitter pulp.   Roots may spread out from plants by as much as 50 feet (15 m), from which adventitious shoots arise and form a thicket.
  • Sun or partial shade.  Best on moist, loam or sandy loam soils with good drainage, but also grows on dry, exposed sites.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 4         Native from British Columbia and Vancouver Island south to Washington, Oregon, and southern California and east to Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico.  Found at elevations from 150 ft (45 m) in the northern part to 9,000 ft (2700 m) in southern California.  The most common western cherry.  There are two forms, P. emarginata var. emarginata, which is shrub-like and more widespread than the small tree form (to 50 ft), P. emarginata var. mollis, found west of the Cascades.
  • emarginata: shallow notch, referring to the petals
  • William L. Finely National Wildlife Refuge, south of Corvallis: large thicket on Woodpecker Loop Trail.
Click image to enlarge
  • opening buds

    opening buds

  • flowers


  • flower clusters

    flower clusters

  • plant habit, thicket, summer

    plant habit, thicket, summer

  • leaves


  • leaves, in deep shade

    leaves, in deep shade

  • leaves and developing fruit

    leaves and developing fruit

  • ripe fruit and leaves

    ripe fruit and leaves

  • plant habit, thicket, fall

    plant habit, thicket, fall

  • leaves, fall

    leaves, fall

  • trunk, bark

    trunk, bark

  • plant habit, thicket, winter

    plant habit, thicket, winter

  • winter branches, twigs and buds

    winter branches, twigs and buds

  • winter buds

    winter buds