Bird Cherry: Planting And Care, Species And Varieties, Pests And Diseases

Silverberry (Prunus) is a common name for the individual species belonging to the genus Plum of the family Pink. Previously, these species were identified as a separate genus or subgenus. Often, when speaking of Bird cherry, gardeners mean Bird cherry (Prunus padus), also called bird or brush cherry. Under natural conditions, this species can be found in Asia, all over Russia, Western Europe and North Africa. It prefers to grow on nutritious forest floor where groundwater is fairly close to the soil surface in temperate climates.

It can be found on forest edges, riverbanks, sands and clearings. There are about 20 species of bird cherry.

Special features of the bird cherry

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

The bird cherry is a shrub or not very large tree, its height varies from 0.6 to 10 meters. The crown is lush and elongated.

Its matt black-gray bark has white lenticels. The color of young stems and branches is olive or cherry. The alternately arranged simple glabrous leaflets are oblong or elliptical in shape with an acuminate apex and sharply serrated edges. They are 3-15 centimeters long. Leaves are arranged on thin petioles, with 2 glandules at the base of the plate.

The brush-like descending inflorescences are 8 to 12 centimeters long and consist of fragrant flowers in pale pink or white. The flower consists of 5 petals and sepals, a pistil, 20 stamens and anthers that are yellow. The fruit is a black globular shaped stone, which reaches 0.8 to 1 cm across. The fruit has a sweet, strongly astringent taste, and inside it is an ovoid-round bone.

It blooms in May and June and ripens in July and August. Planting of bird cherry in the open field

Planning of bird cherry

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

When to plant

The bird cherry is recommended for planting in the open field in spring and autumn because at this time the seedlings take root very quickly. For planting it is best to choose a sunny spacious area with moist nutritious soil, which should be slightly acidic or neutral. If you plant the bird cherry in a shady place, it will stretch to the sunlight, and the formation of fruits will occur at the tops of the branches. Experts recommend planting this plant in a plot with loamy soil, but it can also be planted in clay and sandy soil.

Bird cherry prefers groundwater close enough to the surface of the site.

This plant requires cross-pollination, therefore several trees of different varieties should be planted on the site at once, but it should be considered that they should bloom at the same time. When planting several meters distance between the plants must be kept as they are fast growing and their branches can reach several meters in length.

Perfect planting

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

Saplings planted in open soil will root perfectly and no special nutritious soil must be prepared for filling the hole. For planting, a pit should be prepared, the size of which should be such that the root system of the plant to be planted can be accommodated in it.

At the bottom of the pit should be poured a layer of mixture consisting of mineral fertilizers and humus, dry leaves or peat. Remember that a lot of organic matter will have a negative effect on the bark, so do not put too much of it in the hole. Just before planting, the root system of the plant should be thoroughly inspected and all diseased roots should be cut out and excessively long ones shortened. Cut down all but 2 or 3 of the most powerful stems from the seedling, they should be shortened to 0.5-0.

7 m. The cherry root system should be placed in the prepared pit, which should be backfilled with soil. The root circle should be compacted, after which the plant is very well watered. After the liquid has been completely absorbed into the soil, the surface should be covered with a layer of mulch (sawdust or peat).

Late Bird cherry - stratification and planting

Garden care for bird cherries

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

Cherry is not very demanding so the cultivation is not difficult.

Planted plants should be watered often and regularly at first. When the plant has been watered, it should be loosened, removing all weeds. To significantly reduce the number of weeding, watering and loosening, the surface of the root zone should be covered with a layer of mulch. A more mature plant should be systematically fed, pruned, and treated for diseases and pests.

A mature tree should be watered several times during all summer months, and if there is drought, the number of waterings should be increased.

If it rains regularly enough in summer time, the bird cherry can be not watered at all.

Trimming of bird cherry

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

Every year a sanitary pruning of bird cherry should be performed, for this purpose all withered, injured, diseased stems and branches, as well as those that contribute to thickening of the crown should be removed. The places of cuts must necessarily be treated with garden varnish. This plant can be formed as a multi-stemmed shrub or in the form of a tree on a high bough. To make the crown of the plant have a bowl shape, on the seedling after planting should remain only the central shoot, which should be shortened to 0,5-0,7 m, all other stems should be removed.

When new stems grow from the stem, the first tier should be laid, leaving 3 or 4 branches, which should be well developed and evenly distant from each other. The angle of departure of the skeletal branches from the central shoot (conductor) should be about 50 to 70 degrees. All other stems should be cut to the ring. The second tier is laid in exactly the same way, using 2 to 4 branches, which should be removed from the branches of the first tier by 0.45-0.

5 m. In subsequent seasons, one or two more tiers should be planted, each with two to three branches. Another thing to make sure is that the height of the bird cherry should not exceed 350-400 cm. This requires regular thinning and sanitary pruning, with all root shoots to be cut out, and also the longest branches to be shortened to the side branching, which should be directed downwards, which will help contain the growth of the tree.

Transplanting Bird cherry

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

Transplanting this tree is recommended in the spring, but preparations for the procedure should be still in autumn.

For this purpose, a pit must be prepared for transplanting. Its size should be such that both the root system of the plant and the lump of soil can fit freely in it. Once the temperature in autumn on the street will be 5 degrees or slightly below (the ground should not be frozen), you must make the digging of plants on the border of the root circle, then it is very abundantly watered, this is done to ensure that the tree root system wintered in the frozen ground coma. In the springtime, try not to let the soil thaw very quickly. Fill the surface of the rooting circle with a layer of snow, which should be covered with burlap and a layer of sawdust on top.

After the snow layer turns into water, you should make a digging of the tree and pull its root system outward together with a clod of earth, which in no case should not melt. The clump of earth is wrapped with burlap, which will prevent it from being destroyed during the transfer to the new planting site. The sacking is very well wetted with water, the plant is laid horizontally and gently moved to the new planting site with its roots forward. Planting bird cherry, it is not necessary to remove the burlap from the roots. It will not interfere with the growth of the root system.

To ensure that the transplanted tree was in an upright position, you will need wire straps, one end of which should be fastened to the deeply driven into the ground stakes, and the other to the trunk. The wire can traumatize the bark of the tree, so rags, birch bark or cardboard should be placed under it.

First days of transplanted bird cherry should be protected from direct sunlight so that the restoration of the root system goes successfully. Watering solutions that stimulate root formation and growth are used. The normally acclimatized plant should be cared for as a simple adult bird cherry, but it should be prepared for wintering in a different way.

To do this in deep autumn, its trunk is very high dipped, and the surface of the soil should be covered with manure or humus, which will protect the root system from freezing.

Raising Bird cherry

To propagate this plant, cuttings, rootstock and grafting are used. Cherry trees can also be propagated from seeds sown in August and September, but please note that the resulting trees rarely inherit the varietal characteristics of the mother plant.

Spreading by cuttings

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

Berries can be propagated quite easily and quickly, therefore this method is the most popular among gardeners. Cutting of cuttings is carried out in the autumn time.

Young branches are used for cutting, and the length of the cuttings can vary from 18 to 20 centimeters. Cuttings should be saved until spring, for this they are wrapped in paper or cloth and stored in a cool place. In the spring, half a month before planting cuttings in the open soil they are disinfected using a solution of manganese potassium, and then put in a glass of water, and wait for the roots to grow. When this happens, the cuttings should be planted in moist, loose soil. Taking care of the cuttings is very simple, for this they need to be timely watered and gently loosen the surface of the soil around them.

Once the plant has formed a good system of roots, it should be transplanted to a permanent place. Most gardeners recommend rooting directly in a permanent location because they are very difficult to transplant.

Repropagation by taps

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

To propagate this plant by taps, you should choose a branch on the bush that grows very low. On its bark it is necessary to make an incision, and then the branch is bent to the surface of the ground and placed in a trench thirty centimeters deep, which should be prepared a couple of days before the procedure and put peat in it. Fix the branch in this position and backfill the trench with soil, with the top of the cuttings remaining on the surface of the ground.

In the fall, separate the offshoot and transplant it to a new location. The nice thing about this method of propagation is that the grafts take root relatively well.


Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

It is also quite easy to propagate this crop by grafting, especially since 9.5 out of 10 grafts take root in the bud. The grafting is done in mid-summer.

As a scion cuttings cut from young shoots are used.

Pests and diseases of bird cherry

Brier cherry is prone to such diseases as leaf spots (rubella, coniotiriosis, cercosporosis), powdery mildew, cytosporosis, wood rot, pockets of flowers and fruits. Pests include aphids, plant-eating bugs, minnie moths, gypsy moth, hawthorn moth, ermine cherry moth and weevil beetles.


Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

Cytosporosis damages branches and trunk, causing the plant to die. In an affected plant, pycnidia of the fungus (small white tubercles) can be found on the surface of the trunk.

On a damp, rainy day, light red threads can be seen emerging from such pycnidia. As soon as the first signs of such a disease are noticed, the infected stems should be cut out and destroyed, along with the fallen leaves and fruits. In spring, before foliage unfolds, treat the bird cherry with Bordeaux mixture (1%) or copper chloride. In March large branches and trunk should be washed with iron sulfate. In fall whitewash the surface of the trunk with lime.

Wood rot

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

Wood rot begins to develop because of the trutovirus fungus. The plant becomes infected through wounds on the bark of the bird cherry. As the wood rots, there is a change in its physical and chemical properties as well as its structure. If the place of fungus penetration is timely detected and cleaned up to healthy wood and smeared with clay mixed with fungicide, it can save the plant. If the disease is neglected, however, the bird cherry can no longer be saved.

Flower and fruit pockets

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

The most dangerous fungal disease the bird cherry can contract is flower and fruit pockets. During the course of the disease, the fruits are deformed, no seeds grow in them, and a plaque appears on their surface, which consists of sacs of the fungus-causing organism. Infected flowers most often die, and the ovary does not form, and the whole tree is also depressed. Cut off any diseased fruits or flowers. Before the tree flowers it should be sprayed with a solution of copper sulfate (1%), iron sulfate (3%) or Bordeaux mixture (1%).


Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

If a white weed infestation appears on stems and foliage it means the plant is infested with powdery mildew. This plaque becomes less noticeable after a while, but fruiting bodies of dark-colored fungus appear on it and are clearly visible. In the springtime the disease is observed to resume.


Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

Polistigmosis, either rubella or red leaf spot, is a fungal disease. An infected specimen has deep red spots on the surface of the leaves that are clearly visible against the green background.

Infested plant and the surface of the root zone before the buds unfold should be sprayed with a solution of Nitraphene or copper sulfate, and its concentration should be 3%. When the plant blossoms, it is treated with Bordeaux liquid (1%). If the bird cherry is very heavily infested, a third spraying with fungicide must be conducted 15 to 20 days after flowering.


Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

If small and irregularly shaped necroses appear on the leaf plate, the tree is infected with cercosporosis. They are whitish on the front surface of the leaf plate and brown on the back.

Over time, they merge, and there is also destruction and rashing of the affected tissue. To get rid of such a disease, the tree must be treated with Topaz, which must be used in accordance with the instructions.


Koniotiriosis damages branch bark, foliage and fruit. On the affected parts of the plant, confluent or solitary necroses of irregularly round brown or yellow color with dark orange border appear. In the central part of these necroses appear point pycnidia black.

To cure bird cherry it is necessary to treat it with fungicide.

There are 2 preventive treatments against pests in a season: at the beginning of spring, before opening of leaves, and at the end of flowering. The plant is sprayed with Carbophos solution (60 grams per 1 bucket of water), at the same time about 2 liters of such agent should be used per one plant.

Species and varieties of bird cherry with photos and names

Gardeners cultivate not only common bird cherry (description can be found in the beginning of the article), but several other species as well.

Maack's bird cherry (Padus maackii)

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

Wildly found in the Amur region, Korea, Primorski and Khabarovsk Territory and Northeastern China.

This species is most commonly used for landscaping. The species was named after R.K. Maak, the explorer of Siberia and the Far East and the Russian naturalist. The tree reaches a height of about 17 meters and its crown is broadly pyramidal in shape.

The surface of the trunk is covered with a quite showy bark of a yellow-golden or orange-red color, which flakes off in thin films. The glossy foliage is elliptical or oblong in shape, it is sharply toothed and the apex is pulled back. The leaves are up to 13 centimeters long. In spring they are colored greenish, in summer a dark green, in fall red-yellow or deep yellow. Rectangular, oblong-shaped inflorescences consist of white flowers, up to 0.

6 cm across, which have no odor at all. The small black fruits are roundish and bitter-tasting. They are very fond of being eaten by bears, which is why this plant is also referred to as a "bear berry". The frost-resistant qualities of this species are very high; it can survive temperature drops as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius. It has been cultivated since 1870

Maximovic cherry (Padus maximowiczii)

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

This species also occurs naturally in the Far East.

It is named after K. I. Maximovich, an explorer of the Far East. Unlike other species, this tree has bracts on its brush-like inflorescence, which also remain on the fruit. The inflorescences consist of 3-7 white flowers, reaching about 0.

6 cm across. The small red fruits change their color to black as they mature. The not very large leaf plates are slightly lobed, turning red in the fall. This species is among the most ornamental.

Padus serrulata (Padus serrulata)

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

In nature, this species is found in Korea, Northeast China and the Far East.

This species was first assigned to the genus Plum and then to the genus Cherry. Small saw-toothed cherry along with other species were used in the creation of Japanese sakura. This species began to be cultivated a long time ago. The height of such a branched tree can reach 25 meters. The crown shape is ovoid.

The lenticels, which are located on the smooth brown-gray bark, remain for a long time. The elliptical or ovate leaf plates are rounded at the base and strongly tapered toward the top. The foliage surface is purplish or bronze in early spring, greenish and orange in summer, purple and brown in fall. The opposite surface of the leaf blades is lighter in color, and the veins are covered with pinched pubescence. Short corymbose inflorescences consist of 2-4 pinkish or white flowers, reaching 30 mm across.

Flowers open at the same time as the leaves. Such a plant during flowering looks very impressive. And the forms that are most decorative are the pink macrose and white-flowered ones.

Pennsylvania bird cherry (Padus pennsylvanica)

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

Native to this species is North America. This bird cherry prefers to grow on forest edges and along rivers.

It is a tree or a large shrub reaching up to 12 meters in height. The slender trunk is covered with red-cherry bark and the glossy branches are colored red. The crown shape is oval. The glossy green leaf blades are oblong-lanceolate or ovate in shape and have a sharply serrated edge and pointed apex. Leaves turn red in the fall.

The brush-like inflorescence consists of 3-8 white flowers. The fruits are small kernels, which can be eaten. This bird cherry also looks more showy in blooming and in autumn. It is tolerant to drought and frost. Cultivated since 1773

Padus ssiori

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

In nature, this species is found in the Far East, South Sakhalin and Northern Japan, and prefers to grow in mountain forests.

The tree reaches up to 7 meters in height. Its dark grey bark has large white lenticels on its surface. The crown becomes spreading with age. Leaf blades with a heart-shaped base are about 14 centimeters long and irregularly serrated along the edge, pointed toward the top, with an obovate or elliptical shape. The multifloral cyst-shaped inflorescences are about 15 centimeters long and have a flower diameter of about 10 mm.

Fruits are large, black, globular-shaped, fleshy bones.

Silver cherry (Padus asiatica)

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

From its natural habitat in the Far East and eastern Siberia, this species prefers to grow in forests and floodplains. This tree reaches a height of up to 17 meters and its appearance is very similar to that of the common bird cherry. The difference is that it has pale reddish pubescence on its young shoots and is very frost hardy.

Antipka cherry (Padus mahaleb), or magalenka

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

Wildly found in Asia Minor, Central Asia up to Pamir-Altai, southern Europe and the Caucasus, this cherry prefers to grow on calcareous soil in shrub thickets.

The Latin name is of Arabic origin and in America it is commonly known as the St. Lucy or Fragrant Cherry. This species differs from the others in the structure of inflorescences - it is a shortened and flattened brush consisting of 5-14 flowers, which looks very similar to the shield. This species is represented by a not very tall shrub or tree. The bark is dark brown in color and has a peculiar odor.

The shape of the crown is globular. The glossy, rounded-edged leaves can reach 9 centimeters in length; their front surface is pale green, while the reverse is even lighter colored and covered with light yellow pubescence. The inflorescences are about 7 cm long and consist of small flowers, about 15 mm across. The juicy ripe fruits are black in color and about 10 mm in diameter. Garden forms:

  • flattened - branches downward;
  • yellow-fruited - fruits do not turn black as they mature;
  • spotted - leaf color is spotted;
  • white-bordered - the edge of the leaf plates has a white border;
  • ugly - the lush crown has a globular shape.

Gray cherry tree (Padus grayana)

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

This tree is native to East Asia and is about 10 meters tall. Its resistance to frost is very high. Gardeners cultivate this species very rarely.

Late cherry tree (Padus serotina)

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

In nature, it is found in the Americas from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes. This species was named so because of its late flowering, which occurs in the last days of May or June, with fruit ripening around the last days of August.

It is also referred to as the black cherry (because of the color of its bark) or the rum cherry (because of the flavor of its fruit). This plant is a broad-crowned shrub or a tall tree (about 20 meters high). The bark is a very dark cherry color. The glossy, naked leaflets are broadly lanceolate in shape and dark green, reaching a length of about 12 centimeters. The coloring of the front surface of the plate is darker than the reverse.

In the fall, the color of the leaves changes to various shades of yellow and red. Oblate at the base, cylindrical, brush-like inflorescences reach approximately 14 centimeters in length; they consist of white flowers, 10 mm across and odorless. The black fruits have a bitter taste. Ornamental forms:

  • pyramidal - crown shape narrowly pyramidal;
  • flattening - branches pointing downward;
  • spotted - the surface of the green leaf plates have strokes and spots of yellow;
  • cartilaginous - glossy leaf plates are comparatively long;
  • willow leaf plates - narrow leaf plates similar in appearance to willow leaves;
  • Fern-leaved - leaf plates repeatedly dissected;
  • Flowered - flowers are macerated.

Cultivated since 1629

Padus virginiana (Padus virginiana)

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

From the eastern regions of North America, it prefers to grow along rivers.

This species is very similar to the common bird cherry, but differs in its small, buds that stand apart from the shoots. On the other hand, the buds of the bird cherry are confined to the stems and are only 1.3 cm in length. This species is represented by a tree, which height can reach 15 meters, the crown is branched. The finely fissured bark is dark colored.

The dense, glossy leaf blades are oblong-ovate and sharply serrated along the edge, reaching 12 centimeters in length. During the opening the leaflets are green-brown, in the summer months they are dark green, but in the fall the color changes to a rich red-yellow. The multifloral cyst-shaped inflorescences are 15 centimeters long and consist of white flowers, reaching a diameter of about 1.3 cm. The globular fruits have a juicy flesh.

They are red at first, but become a darker red as they mature. Of particular interest is the species Shubert: at 15 years of age the tree is 300 to 400 cm tall, with green leaves that turn purple-red when they are young and hanging inflorescences of white flowers, about 10 mm across. It has been cultivated since 1950. This species has other interesting forms:

  1. Atropurpurea. Presented by a large shrub or tree, characterized by rapid growth and reaching a height of 15 meters.

    Its bark is black and its leaves are purple. The edible dark red fruits have a tart taste.

  2. Rassvet. A low-growing partly-self-fertile tree, not exceeding 300 centimeters in height. Inflorescences are relatively large.

    The taste of the fruits is tart, sweet-sour, and the color is dark red.

  3. Narym and Taiga. The height of these self-fertile trees is from 350 to 400 cm. The crown is spectacular and the inflorescences are relatively large. The color of the fruit is red and the sweet-sour tart flesh is yellow.

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

Gardeners cultivate a large number of varieties of common bird cherry, for example:

  1. Sakhalinskaya black. The height of such a self-fertile tree is 6 to 7 meters. The lush crown has a pyramidal shape. The leaf laminae are large and the inflorescences are multifloral. The fruits ripen early and have sweet, slightly tart green flesh.

  2. Tender. The tree is 350 to 400 cm tall. The long, brush-like inflorescences consist of small, fragrant flowers. Their color at the very beginning of flowering is dark red, and then it changes to white.
  3. Plain.

    The swollen flowers are highly decorative.

  4. Gullen. The tree is 4 to 4.5 meters tall. The large tassel-shaped inflorescences consist of large white flowers.

  5. Meteo. The flowers are white and the tassels are very long (about 20 centimeters).

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

There are many hybrid varieties that have come into being through crossing different species:

  1. Purple Candle. The tree has a lush, narrow-pyramidal crown and reaches about 5 meters in height. The green color of the leaf plates changes to dark purple by mid-summer.

    The semi-descent, tassel-like inflorescences are 10 to 14 centimetres long and have white flowers. A hybrid created by crossing brush cherry and Virgin cherry. The height of the tree is about 8 metres and the crown shape is narrow-pyramidal. The rough bark is light gray in color, and the leaf blades are elliptical in shape. The dense, brush-like inflorescences are 14 to 15 centimeters long and consist of 35-40 white flowers, reaching 1.

    5 cm across. The rounded fruits have a dark brown, almost black color, the taste of the juicy yellow-green pulp is sweet-sour, tart.

  2. Mavra. Crown shape broadly pyramidal, branches drooping at the ends. Inflorescences, flowers and foliage are similar to Late Joy, but the color of the fruit is darker.

  3. Black Shine. A medium-early hybrid. The height of this self-fertile tree is 5 to 6 meters. The medium sized leaf plates are dark green in color. Cylindrical multi-flowered inflorescences consist of large flowers.

    The fruits are black and the flesh is green-yellow with a pleasant taste.

Benefits and harms of bird cherry

Bird cherry: planting and care, species and varieties, pests and diseases

Beneficial properties of bird cherry

Scientists have recently confirmed that the leaves and fruits of bird cherry have medicinal properties, but long before that they were widely used in unconventional medicine. Decoctions, tinctures and lotions are prepared from it.

Fruits contain pectin, tannins, sugars, organic acids. Bark, seeds, leaves and flowers contain amygdalin glycoside and release of hydrocyanic acid during its cleavage.

Leaves and fruits contain essential oil, resin, flavonoids, phenolcarbonic and ascorbic acids, gum and trimethylamine.

Cherry berries have antimicrobial and fortifying properties, so they are used for diarrhea and other intestinal disorders. Infusions are used for this purpose. From the bark prepare decoctions that have diuretic properties, they are recommended in diseases of the heart and kidneys. In such a decoction are noted and diaphoretic properties, so it is used for fevers and colds.

It is also used for gastrointestinal spasms. Tincture of bird cherry rinse your mouth with stomatitis, wash your eyes with purulent conjunctivitis, gargle your throat with upper respiratory tract diseases and sore throat. It also helps with women's illnesses.

Wood. Bird cherry.

Narrated by Sailor Sergey Viktorovich


Eating bird cherry pips is impossible because when the phytoncides decompose in the body there is a release of hydrocyanic acid, due to which severe pain in the head area may occur. Pregnant women are forbidden to inhale the fragrance of bird cherry and use any remedies prepared on its basis. Any part of the plant contains alkaloids, due to which it is not used in traditional medicine.


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