written by Saige Patti
April showers bring May flowers, and May flowers bring summer cherries! In Ontario there are three native species of cherry tree; black cherry, pin cherry, and chokecherry.
These trees produce small, white clusters of flowers in spring, followed by berries produced from summer to early autumn. The berries are edible but tart, and are generally used in jams, juices, and preserves instead of eaten raw.
Ontario’s cherry trees can stand the heat – when fires create sunny patches in forest undergrowth, these tree species will take the opportunity and sprout rapidly.
This tree can grow to 30 m in height. It can grow in any type of soil, but requires quite a bit of space and needs to be watered regularly until it is established. Its berries are produced in dark red clusters.
Fun Fact: The bark and leaves of black cherry have been used to make tonics, cough syrups and sedatives, but the leaves and bark are now known to contain cyanide and are actually toxic.
These trees can grow to about 12 meters, and need bright sun to grow properly. In the wild they are more likely to be found in open spaces, far away from the shade of other trees. They can grow in poor conditions, but will remain smaller than a shrub. This tree produces a bright red cherry.
Fun Fact: The seeds can remain on the forest floor in a dormant state for decades until disturbed by a windstorm or fire, at which point they will sprout prolifically.
These trees grow to about 8m in height. They prefer sun and will grow best in open spaces. They are cold hardy trees but will resemble shrub. They can survive a range of soils and moisture conditions but thrive best in well-drained soil and full sun.
The berries of this tree vary in colour; they can be yellow, red, or almost black. Chokecherry trees are important to wildlife year round; they provide berries for birds and winter twigs for deer elk and moose.
Fun Fact: While they are often chosen as an ornamental plant for their ability to withstand the cold, they are also used for land reclamation and erosion projects because of their ability to survive a wide range of soils.