Black Cherry Prunus serotina
Family: Rosaceae (Rose)
Branching: Alternate

There are three main species of cherry in southern Ontario and Black Cherry is the only one which regularly grows to tree size.  When mature, its bark is very distinctive.  It is very dark (nearly black) and it develops scaly plates.  A good analogy is that it looks like "burnt corn flakes".  The twigs are less distinctive and look similar to Choke Cherry and some other species.  All cherries (and others in the genus Prunus) have a very distinctive smell when the twigs are broken.  Also, cherries (along with Oaks) are the two main groups that often have a cluster of buds at the end (not so often with Black Cherry as with Pin Cherry).  Black Cherry and Pin Cherry also have horizontal markings on the bark when young.  They share this with Birches (which can look very similar to Cherries) and several other species.

Black Cherry winter twig

Another view of the winter twig

Occasionally Black Cherry has multiple end buds

Twigs of the three main native cherries.  From left to right (2 twigs of each): Choke, Black, and Pin

Distinctive Black Cherry bark

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