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One of our most attractive trees, with its white or very pale pink flowers in spring, followed by hanging cherries. The bark is also attractive, and the leaves provide autumn colour.
Wild cherry is very common in St. Johns Wood, Co. Roscommon.
Cherry is often found in old field hedgerows where it may have been planted by man, but is also found in mixed deciduous woodland. The old farm trees may not be native in the sense of ancient woodland, but they are part of our rural history, like crab apple and old varieties of apple, pear, plum and damson, once grown in gardens and small orchards throughout the country.
It is often used as a decorative wood in joinery and furniture making.
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.
STORAGE/TREATMENT OF SEEDS
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.
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