Prunus serotina var. rufula
Prunus serotina Ehrh. var. rufula (Woot. & Standl.) McVaugh
Southwestern black cherry, Chisos black cherry
Rosaceae (Rose Family)
Synonym(s): Prunus virens var. rufula
USDA Symbol: PRSER2
Following McVaughs description, Prunus serotina var. rufula is a variety of P. serotina that occurs from southeastern Arizona and New Mexico south through the Sierra Madre Occidental to the Mexican states of Durango and Guanajuato. It and variety virens are subsumed under subspecies virens, which is characterized by smaller size than more easterly varieties (to 30 ft. tall), generally diminished leaf and branch size, and an often shrubby form. Variety rufula is distinguished from variety virens by densely rufous-hirsutulous branchlets and raceme axes and shorter, stouter petioles 5-7 mm in length. Despite McVaughs description, widely referenced Texas botanist Benny Simpson has referred Texas populations to variety rufula, and other Texas plant writers have followed his example.
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Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub , Tree
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Oblanceolate , Ovate
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Margin: Crenate , Serrate
Leaf Apex: Acuminate
Leaf Base: Cuneate
Leaf Texture: Smooth
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Size Notes: To 30 ft but often much smaller
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Red to purple-black
Size Class: 12-36 ft. , 36-72 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr
Bloom Notes: Blooms right after leaf emergence.
DistributionUSA: AZ , NM
Native Distribution: Per McVaugh, from southeastern Arizona and New Mexico south through the Sierra Madre Occidental to Durango and Guanajuato in Mexico
Native Habitat: Streamsides, river banks, canyons
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay
BenefitUse Ornamental: Showy, easily grown shrub or small tree with ornamental blooms and fruits
Use Wildlife: Fruit eaten by a variety of birds and mammals. Flowers visited by insects.
Use Food: Cherries eaten raw (must be pitted) and used in jellies, jams, pies, and as a flavoring extract in drinks and syrups.
Use Medicinal: Inner bark used in cough syrups, sedatives, and tonics.
Use Other: Wood long used in furniture making and other things because of its lustrous, dark red tint.
Warning: All parts of Prunus species except the fruits contain poisonous substances and should never be eaten. The bark, leaves, and seeds of this species are especially toxic. POISONOUS PARTS: Wilted leaves, twigs (stems), seeds. Highly toxic to humans and herbivorous mammals. May be fatal if ingested. Symptoms include gasping, weakness, excitement, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, coma, respiratory failure. Toxic Principle: Cyanogenic glycoside, amygdalin, prussic acid.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: For a variety of butterflies and moths
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: No
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial Value to Native Bees
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
PropagationPropagation Material: Hardwood Cuttings , Root Cuttings , Seeds , Semi-hardwood Cuttings , Softwood Cuttings
Description: Seeds require cold stratification. Cuttings that work best are summer semi-hardwood.
Seed Collection: : Collect fruit when it is filled out, firm, and its ripe color. Clean seeds from pulp and briefly air dry. (Seeds to be sown immediately in fall do not need drying.) Storage viability is maintained at 31-41 degrees.
Maintenance: Keep fallen leaves, twigs, and branches picked up if you have herbivorous animals, as all parts except the fruit are highly toxic.
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
BibliographyBibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
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Recommended Species Lists
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Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Prunus serotina var. rufula in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Prunus serotina var. rufula in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Prunus serotina var. rufula
MetadataRecord Modified: 2011-02-27
Research By: TWC Staff, GDG