Prunus pensylvanica is a small tree to 15 m tall, about 30 years; bark smooth, twigs reddish; shallow rooted, colonial from root sprouts.
Leaves alternate, narrow, hairless, about 9 cm long, tip long-pointed, toothed, petiole with glands at top; leaves or winter buds crowded at ends of twigs.
Flowers white, about 0.6 cm, in small, umbrella-shaped clusters; blooms May.
Fruit red, fleshy, about 0.6 cm, 1-seeded. Fruit eaten and seeds dispersed by numerous birds and mammals (Martin et al., 1951). Germination from seed bank common even after several decades.
Wetland status: FACU-.
Frequency in New York City: Infrequent.
Habitat: Very shade intolerant, seedlings need full light to grow, soil pH 4.3-7.3 (USDA, NRCS 2010).
Notes: Rapidly growing pioneer. Often colonizes burned areas. Attacked by many diseases, including cherry leaf spot, Blumeriella jaapii (Sinclair et al. 1987) causes purplish leaf spots and death of leaves. Black knot fungus (Apiosporina morbosa) causes black, rough, gall-like swellings. Fomes pomaceus trunk rot delignifies wood. Attacked by uglynest caterpillars (Archips cerasivoranus) (Burns and Honkala 1990).