Prunus PUMILA Linnaeus.                                                                                   HOME

1. Linnaeus Mant. P1. 75. 1768. 2. Bailey Cor. Bul. Ex. Sta. 38:96. 1892. Bailey l.c. 70:260.
1894. 3. Bailey Cyc. Am. Hort. 3.1450. 1901.
P. Susquhanae. 4. Willdenow Enum. P1. 519. 1809.
P. depressa. S. Pursh Fl. Am. 1:332. 1814.
P. incana. 6. Schweinitz Long's Expedition by Keating 2:387. 1824.
Cerasus glauca. 7. Moench Meth. 672. 1794.
C. pumila. B. Michaux Fl. Bor. Am. 2:286. 1803.
C. depressa. 9. Seringe, in De Candolle Prod. 2:538. 1825.

Plant a small shrub, five to eight feet in height, willow-like habit, weak, tipright when young but becoming decumbent, slow-growing, hardy; trunk slender, smooth except for the raised lenticels; branches slender, smooth, twiggy, very dark, dull reddish-black with a tinge of gray; lenticels numerous, small, conspicuous; branchlets very slender, short, twiggy, with short internodes, dull grayish-brown, glabrous, with conspicuous, very small, raised lenticels.

Leaves hanging late in the season, small, averaging one and three-fourths inches long, one inch wide, flat, abruptly pointed, narrowly oblanceolate to obovate, thin; upper surface dark, dull green, smooth; lower surface light green, thinly pubescent on the midrib and veins; midrib small, straight; veins very minute; margin serrate, teeth tipped with very small glands; petiole short, one-fourth inch in length, glandless. "Flowers small, in two-to five-flowered umbels, white, appearing with the leaves; pedicels slender, a half-inch in length. Fruit nearly round, pendulous, variable in color but usually purple-black, without bloom, nearly a half-inch in diameter; flesh thin, variable in quality but often sour and astringent; season late July; stone turgid, nearly round.

Prunus pumila, the Sand Cherry, or Dwarf Cherry, of eastern America, is found on sandy and rocky, inland shores from Maine to the District of Columbia and northwestward to the Lake of the Woods in Canada. In particular it is common on the sand dunes of the Great Lakes. Everywhere in the wild state it grows in light sands suggesting its use in and soils and especially on poor soils in cold climates.

As yet there seem to be no named varieties of this cherry known to fruit-growers, its nearly related species, Prunus besseyi, offering greater opportunities to both the fruit-grower and the experimenter. Both the plants and fruits are so variable, the size, color and quality of the crop on some plants being quite attractive, that it is certain an opportunity to domesticate a worthy native plant is being overlooked. The species ought to have value, too, as a stock on which to work other cherries for sandy soils, dwarf trees and exacting climates.

[This species is probably more related to plums than cherries as far as I can tell.  Any botanists out there that care to comment, send me an email. A.S.C.]