Tree identification – Cherry


This large tree, is located in our back garden in part shade and part sunshine. It had a white fine early spring shedding, and now has green leaves and red fruit. I would like to identify this tree to ensure that the fruit it producing is not toxic to my children.


Prunus avium, commonly called wild cherry, sweet cherry, gean, or bird cherry is a species of cherry, a flowering plant in the rose family, Rosaceae.  It has given rise to many of the edible sweet cherry cultivars, but the species itself produces fruits that are mostly eaten by birds and mammals in the fall. The fruit is edible whether raw or cooked but the twigs, leaves and seeds are poisonous. The first link below has a YouTube video which shows a red gland on the stem at the base of the leaf, which can be diagnostic for this species. The second link has a few more pictures and a dichotomous key for definitive identification. It’s hard to identify exactly from a photo.

I also though it might be Canada plum or Prunus nigra, but the leaves in the pictures don’t look quite right and the fruit  is a purplish red drupe with a thin waxy bloom, about 1 inch in diameter and a single hard seed inside. In your picture the fruit isn’t purplish red with a waxy bloom. It’s a native plant but more of a shrub than a tree. It is edible but doesn’t taste like plums you might be familiar with and it has medicinal properties.

Here are a couple of links that show pictures and keys for Canada plum: