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About the Wild Cherry

Crann Silíní Fiáin ...
Prunus avium

Overview: The Wild Cherry is one of Ireland's most attractive trees, with its white or very pale pink flowers in spring, followed by hanging cherries in the autumn which can be either sour or sweet depending on the tree. Birds particularly love them! By eating the fruit, birds such as the thrush and blackbird, and mammals like the badger and pine marten help to disperse them country-wide.

Bark: The bark of the Wild Cherry is reddish brown, peeling and striped and so is easily identifiable.

Buds and Leaves: The oval shaped buds of the Wild Cherry are reddish brown and occur in clusters. They burst into leaf in April each year. Leaves are oval, green and doubly-toothed with pointed tips, measuring 6–15cm with two red glands on the stalk at the leaf base. They turn wonderful colours of deep red, bright orange and golden yellow come autumn.

Flowers: The flowers appear with the leaves in April and early May. They have five petals and hang in clusters of two to six. They contain lots of pollen and nectar and so provide food for hungry insects who in return pollinate them as they fly from flower to flower, thus ensuring a good crop of cherries in early autumn.

Fruit: The fruit of the Wild Cherry, like any fruit, needs heat and warmth to produce sugars. So in good warm summers a really sweet crop can be expected which can be made into delicious pies! An infusion made of the stalks of the berries was used medicinally to treat bronchitis and anaemia.

When applying for your sapling tree, you need to consider where the tree will live and grow for the rest of its life.
Irish native Scots Pine

Irish native Scots Pine

Irish native Scots Pine
Wood: Cherry trees can grow to 30 metres in height and can live for sixty years. The timber of the cherry tree is strong and durable and has a deep rich brown colour like mahogany. It is often used as a decorative wood in joinery and furniture making. It is also one of several woods suited to making uileann pipes. Cherry wood burns well and produces a perfumed smoke.

Where to Find the Wild Irish Cherry Tree:
Wild Cherry trees are often found in old field hedgerows where they may have been planted by farmers but they are also found in mixed deciduous woodland. The old farm trees may not be native in the sense of ancient woodland but they are part of our rural history, like crab apple and old varieties of apple, pear, plum and damson, once grown in gardens and small orchards throughout the country.

The wild cherry, with its beautiful blossoms and useful fruit was considered long ago to be a symbol of youthfulness, beauty and love. It is a native Irish tree and in early Irish Law was classified in the second highest rank of tree Aithig fedo or Commoner of the wood, along with other fruit-bearing trees such as hawthorn and rowan. High value was placed on it and the law at that time said that the fine for cutting one down was the price of two and a half milch cows, (a milch cow is a cow kept for her milk). Cherry stones have been found in a late Bronze Age crannog in Co. Offaly, showing that cherries were eaten as food in those times.

Some Tips from Me - Your Wild Cherry Sapling!
  • Consider where you are going to plant me as this is going to be my home for the rest of my life.
  • I can grow to 30m in height!
  • Don't plant me too near buildings or pathways because of my roots.
  • I love as much sun as possible.
  • I do like a little shelter from the wind.
  • I will start to flower towards the end of April.
  • My flowers are full of pollen and nectar so lots of bees and other insects visit me for food and in return pollinate my flowers.
  • When this happens, and indeed only if this happens, my cherries will form. So myself and the pollinating insects are great friends and I love it when they visit.
  • And then in autumn I will be stunning with my gorgeous, coloured leaves of orange and deep crimson.
  • All trees need love and I can't wait to be in your garden!  Copyright © 2021. Tree Council of Ireland
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