E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Prunus pensylvanica L. f.
pin cherry (bird cherry)
Rosaceae (Rose family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #29611)

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Distribution of Prunus pensylvanica
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This is a small deciduous species of cherry tree that is native to BC.

Species Information

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Shrub to small tree, 1-5 (10) m tall, sometimes thicket-forming; bark reddish-brown, peeling in horizontal strips, with prominent lenticels.
Alternate, deciduous, lanceolate to narrowly egg-shaped or elliptic, 3-8 (10) cm long, finely saw-toothed, gradually tapering to long point at tip, rounded to pointed at the base, smooth; leaf stalks (5) 10-20 mm long, with 1 or 2 small glands near the top.
Inflorescences short, half-rounded to nearly flat-topped, umbel-like clusters, at the ends of short spur-shoots, of 4 to 12 stalked flowers; corollas white, saucer-shaped, the petals 5, egg-shaped, about 6 mm long, usually long-hairy on the back near the base; calyces smooth, 5-lobed, the lance-oblong lobes 2-3 mm long; ovaries superior; stamens about 30.
Fleshy, large-stoned drupes (cherries), ellipsoid to globe-shaped, 4-8 mm long, bright red; seeds 1.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Mid Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Red
Present over the Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Dry to moist, open forests, thickets, rocky slopes, sandy or gravelly benches and clearings in the steppe and montane zones; frequent in BC south of 56degreeN, east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; E to NF and S to VA and CO.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Prunus pensylvanica

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 220 874 1786
Slope Gradient (%) 0 40 100
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
7 192 320
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 2 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BWBS(6), CWH(2), ESSF(5), ICH(63), IDF(20), MS(4), PP(8), SBPS(1), SBS(41)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is montane boreal & cool temperate.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Prunus pensylvanica var. pensylvanica L. f.
Prunus pensylvanica var. saximontana Rehder

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References