Nature Table: Wild cherry

Wild cherries are native Irish trees and are in blossom at present. The large, white flowers in clusters of four to six with long stalks are spectacular.

The tree itself is widely, though sparsely, distributed round the country in hedgerows and some mixed woodlands. It’s normally quite small, though exceptional specimens can exceed 25m, and has a tendency to produce root suckers which means that it often forms groves of genetically identical individuals, particularly in a woodland situation. Small root suckers can be dug up and transplanted and the tree can also be propagated from seed.

The fruit is a bright red cherry about 1cm in diameter which is excellent to eat but it’s very popular with birds, particularly blackbirds, and they usually get them first. There’s some archaeological evidence to suggest that they were widely collected for human consumption in the past. The hard, red timber takes a fine polish and has been used for making furniture. A second native species, the bird cherry, is smaller and much rarer.


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