Choke Cherry Prunus virginiana
Family: Rosaceae (Rose)
Branching: Alternate

Choke Cherry is a very common shrub along edges and in the understory.  Like other cherries, birches, and some other species, the bud scales are lighter toward the edges, giving them a sort of two-toned colouration.  Its buds can look similar to Black Cherry (though they are bigger), but its bark usually lacks the characteristic horizontal markings of other cherries.  The markings are still there, but they are elongated vertically instead, and look more like small blemishes.  As the bark ages, it sometimes develops linear ridges.  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, though this is very rare with Choke Cherry.  The buds look similar to Birch buds as well, as the bud scales have a two-toned colour.

Choke Cherry twig and end bud.

Lateral bud

Another view of the end bud

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

Young bark

Young bark, showing the common markings on the bark

Older bark sometimes develops this vertical striping.  The green colour isn't typical, though.

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copyright © 2008 Josh Sayers
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