Prunus cerasifera

posted in: Gardening | 7

When is a cherry not a cherry?…when it’s really a plum and has the name Prunus cerasifera.

Prunus cerasifera means “bears cherry like fruit”.

There’s white confetti over many of the hedgerows that surround the leavesnbloom garden. The Cherry Plum otherwise known as the Myrobalan Plum is now in flower.  Furthermore it’s the first of the spring trees to flower and the blossom is so rich in nectar for the early insects.

Prunus cerasifera flowers
Prunus cerasifera flowers are 2 centimeters across with five petals


Prunus cerasifera Flowers

Prunus cerasifera trees
Prunus cerasifera trees
It’s a deciduous tree that grows between 6-8 metres tall. Though many of the trees here are trimmed as 8 foot hedges along the rural roads.


It was first introduced to Britain about 300 years ago and was grown for its fruit. While nowadays it’s used very often by commercial growers as the rootstock for the grafted domestic plum tree.


It’s often confused with Prunus spinosa commonly known as Blackthorn. Moreover the flowers are very similar but this Prunus doesn’t have prickly stems and it also flowers slightly earlier than the Blackthorn.


It can also be confused with Prunus domestica the Wild Plum. But the Cherry Plum can be identified by its green twigs as only the 1st-year twigs are green. However those of the Wild Plum and Blackthorn are brown or grey.

prunus cerasifera white flowers

prunus cerasifera white flowers and green stems
1st year green twigs


Prunus cerasifera Fruits


Prunus cerasifera - bearing cherry like fruit
Prunus cerasifera – Bearing Cherry Like Fruit – Photo taken 11th August 2011


The white flowers then produce small green spherical fruits/dupes which ripen to orange/red in July and August.  You need to be quick though to forage for them as the birds devour the fruits so quickly.

Prunus cerasifera - Bearing Cherry Like Fruit
From Wiki Commons

Most of the trees here produce a sparse crop each year. Due to their astringent taste they are best used to make jam.  If your Cherry Plum produces yellow fruit then those are sweet enough to be eaten raw. Though I’ve not found any in this vicinity.

My neighbour forages and shares with me though unsure if these contain cherry plums. But her chutney certainly does and we’ve eaten it all! Seemingly they are a very unrated wild fruit. Another of nature’s bounty, wild and free and just waiting to be picked. Then turned into Chutney or Wild Cherry Plum Jam.


Have you ever eaten these fruits?

Homemade plum jam

Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh. If you'd like to receive the latest leavesnbloom blog posts by email click here.

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7 Responses

  1. Gerry Snape

    lovely post…yes we ate them. My son and daughter-in-law make jam and chutney from them. They make the wooded areas in the local suburbs so fresh and hopeful at this time of year.

  2. Ellie

    That blossom is just so pretty.
    I'm always amazed at the wealth of knowledge you have on all things plants. I love coming to read you blog :))

  3. Andrea

    When i saw flowering trees i know are in the Prunus family, i just consider it as that, but whatever it is plum, apricot, pear or apple i love their flower. Of course i don't know how to differentiate them. In the mountains of turkey i saw fully flowering small shrub/tree with white flowers and they said they are wild plums, i love them.

  4. Gatsbys Gardens

    Very interesting, I have never heard them referred to as a cherry/plum. I will have to look this one up and see if it grows in our zone. Thanks for the info.


  5. Curbstone Valley Farm

    The fruits certainly are cherry like! I remember blackthorns, prickly things, although I haven't seen one in years. We are a little shy on English hedgerows here though!