Monday, April 19, 2010

American Hardwoods: Cherry

Known to live for 250 years, the Black Mountain Cherry is a pioneer species that establishes itself in sunny open fields. Also called 'Black Cherry' or 'Rum Cherry' the broken twigs give off an aromatic almond scent and the fruit ripens from green to red to black.

The very thick, broken, dark bark of the Black Cherry sometimes looks like burnt potato chips! For the first 10 years of life the bark closely resembles Birch: thin and striped. The leaves of a Black Cherry are long, shiny with a serrated margin.

The fruit can be used for making jam, cherry pies and flavoring liqueurs; it's also a popular flavoring for sodas and used in many ice creams. The black cherry is commonly used instead of sweet cherries (Prunus avium) in order to achieve a sharper taste.

The timber is valuable, perhaps the premier cabinetry timber of the U.S., traded as "cherry". It is known for its strong red color and high price.

In Danish folklore, a good crop of cherries was insured by having the first ripe fruit eaten by a woman shortly after her first child was born.

Return to Edge of the Wildwood next week when we look over Cottonwood. It's all part of our American Hardwoods series, covering 20 species of trees.

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