top of page

Native Tree



Prunus padus



This species is most frequently found in the northwest, for example around Churchill and Lough Gartan, Co. Donegal.

It is most easily spotted in the spring, around May, when the flowers are out. The creamy-white flowers are borne in rows along flower stalks about 10cm. long, and are quite obvious above the green foliage.

The dark berries or small cherries ripen in August, when the trees may be more difficult to locate, so you have to remember where you spotted them in the spring, (if you search for cherries after the 15th you may be too late!). It may be possible to mark them with a tie around the trunk.

Bird cherry is worth the effort as it is an attractive small tree with true flowers and grows willingly, preferring good soil and a sheltered site.
Treat bird cherry fruit as common wild cherry.


Collect the berries as soon as they ripen from late July but in some places the birds eat them all. To collect cherries, you have to find a group of fertile trees. Cherries are self-sterile and, in a hedgerow, or small copse all may have grown by suckers from one original tree, so they will not yield fruit. The easiest way to pick up cherry stones is from beneath the tree itself. Good big cherry trees yield the best crop.


Remove the flesh from the seed - if in small numbers volunteer collectors often remove the flesh by eating it! Removing the flesh and cleaning the stones prevents stringent dormancy. If gathered while still hard store them in polythene bags until soft or even partially rotten. Then wash off the pulp. Once the flesh has been removed seed should be stratified or sown straight away.
Seeds can be sown immediately after collection but are very vulnerable to attack by mice and chaffinches. They are best stratified in moist sand mix until early March/April. If seed has to be stored it should be in an airtight container in a cool place from the time of extraction to the time of stratification which needs to start in October.


Sow them in shallow drills to the depth of the seed itself and cover with a layer of coarse grit or sand. Do not disturb seedlings until the following winter. Wild cherry may be grown by lifting rooted suckers, but ask the landowner's permission first! Remember you need a mix for fertile trees, so transplant suckers from more than one source.

Click and learn more with Éanna Ní Lamhna!
bottom of page