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Choosing the Cherry Tree: Tree Following, June 2016

June 11, 2016

In the month since I introduced my new cherry tree, two important things have happened. The first is that the tree bloomed. Its relatively flat rounded clusters of white blossoms (in contrast to the elongated racemes of Prunus serotina, the black cherry) have confirmed my tentative identification of this as a pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica).

pin cherry flowers black cherry flowers
My flowers looked like the photo on the left, not like the one on the right. (Photos from The Forest Trees of Maine.)
cherry tree obscured More importantly, though, I’ve made a choice to try to turn this little tree into a featured garden plant.

When I looked out from my study a few days ago, I could see why I hadn’t noticed this tree in previous years. Once the deciduous trees had leafed out and the conifers had put on new growth, the little cherry tree was practically swallowed up by nearby oak (Quercus rubrum) and hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) trees. As you can see in this photo, the top and one side of the tree were obscured by an overhanging hemlock branch.

This morning, I went out with loppers and a pruning saw to free the little tree. I cut back branches of hemlock and oak that were crowding it, and cut down two nearby oak saplings. These actions don’t guarantee that my Prunus pensylvanica will thrive; wild cherry trees in Maine are widely infected with a fungal disease known as black knot. But I can at least reduce some of the competition and give this little tree a fighting chance. We’ll see how it does in the months to come. cherry tree freed

Tree Following is hosted by Pat English at Squirrel Basket. Visit her blog to check out the trees being followed by other bloggers.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. June 12, 2016 6:57 am

    Excellent – a bit of real gardening and Prunus-saving pruning!
    I guess the pin part of the name is because of the pin-like stamens?
    Very pretty, anyway.
    Thanks for following 🙂

    • June 14, 2016 9:40 pm

      Pat, This tree has a lot of different common names, including “fire cherry” because it is one of the first trees to grow back after a fire. But I couldn’t find any explanation for the “pin cherry” common name.

  2. June 12, 2016 7:49 am

    Love to see plants (especially those that have sown themselves!) being rescued and nurtured. Look forward to seeing more of your cherry’s story.

    • June 14, 2016 9:41 pm

      Cathy, I think because I came to gardening via a love of wildflowers, I’m always looking for a way to incorporate the native plants already growing on my property into my garden.

  3. June 12, 2016 2:55 pm

    a little bit of satisfaction to be gained by helping a young tree on its way.

    • June 14, 2016 9:42 pm

      Diana, I’ve developed quite an affection for this little tree.

  4. June 12, 2016 3:06 pm

    Jean, it’s a lovely little tree. Do you think with the more open environment it is straighten up? Do you want it to or do you prefer the tilted look?

    • June 14, 2016 9:43 pm

      Pat, The tilting of the tree away from the bigger trees that were crowding it is not apparent from my study, which is the angle I almost always view it from. Perhaps a little gentle staking is in order.

  5. June 12, 2016 10:31 pm

    Best wishes to your little cherry tree! It will certainly do better now that it has some freedom to grow.

    • June 14, 2016 9:44 pm

      Deb, I hope so. We’ll see how resistant it is to the endemic local cherry diseases.

  6. June 13, 2016 1:50 pm

    I hope your little cherry tree thrives, Jean.

  7. June 14, 2016 2:03 pm

    I think I would have the same impulse. I hope your cherry tree prospers!

    • June 14, 2016 9:45 pm

      Jason, I don’t know if the tree felt relieved after I pruned away the surrounding foliage; but I certainly did!

  8. June 16, 2016 2:43 pm

    Hello Jean, the young cherry tree looks very spindly, as though a strong wind might just snap the stem. Will you be staking or supporting it now that you have “adopted” it?

    • June 16, 2016 9:05 pm

      Sunil, See my response to Pat above. In short, yes, I think stakes might be a good idea.


  1. Tree following link box for June 2016 | The Squirrelbasket

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