Prunus pensylvanica (Pin Cherry)

Plant Info
Also known as: Fire Cherry
Family:Rosaceae (Rose)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Habitat:part shade, shade, sun; open woods, forest edges and openings
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:20 to 35 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: flat

[photo of flowers] Numerous flat to convex clusters from buds at branch tips and short lateral branches, each cluster a 3 to 7-flowered umbel (stalks all arising from the same point) or short raceme, and emerging with the leaves in spring. Flowers are about ½ inch across with 5 white, round to egg shaped petals with a single slender style and a spray of slender, white, yellow-tipped stamens in the center.

[photo of reflexed sepals] The 5 sepals are lance-oblong, about 1/3 the length of the petals, blunt at the tip and spreading or reflexed downward. Edges lack glandular teeth; the inner and outer surfaces are smooth. Flower stalks are slender and hairless.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are simple and alternate, the blade variable from oval-elliptic to lance-oblong, 2 to 3½ inches long and ¾ to 1½ inches wide, tapered to a pointed tip, tapered or rounded at the base, on a ½ to ¾ inch stalk with a pair of glands near the leaf blade. The upper surface is dark green and shiny, the lower surface lighter and smooth or with hairs along the veins. Edges have shallow, rounded teeth. Twigs are red to reddish brown, shiny smooth or occasionally sparsely hairy with a flaky, waxy cuticle.

[photo of bark on a mature tree] Branches are spreading to ascending, the bark shiny reddish brown to gray with conspicuous horizontal lenticels (pores). Bark peels in horizontal strips. The trunk can be up to 6½ inch diameter at breast height.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a shiny, bright red drupe, about ¼ inch in diameter with a single hard seed inside.


Pin Cherry is an understory tree common throughout Minnesota forest lands. It is intolerant of shade but grows quickly after logging, fires or storms have thinned or removed the canopy, or along road or powerline corridors. The flowers are clustered similarly to both American Plum (Prunus americana) and Canada Plum (Prunus nigra), both of which have only 1 to 4 flowers in an umbel, and bark of mature trees/shrubs that is gray and peeling.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka, Carlton, Lake and Pine counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: stephanie t - Crow Wing Township
on: 2016-05-20 22:43:49

I think I have a few of these in my yard, but Im having difficulty with the ID. Can you assist please?

Posted by: Tim O - Maple Plain
on: 2017-08-01 13:25:10

Can the wood of the Pin Cherry be used in smoking meat products?

Posted by: Randal Johnson - north of Harris Mn
on: 2018-06-29 15:38:05

The dirt road has hundred of trees plan on both sides.plan on foraging when ripe to make wine. I notice plants when flowering and use the app map it to save the locations. Mostly public land. Have 40 locations for choke cherrys the same amount for black elderberries which are flowering now. Have American plums located and all the rhubarb I can use. What kind of riff Raff do you come across I just find ticks and mosquitos.

Posted by: Dianne Wylie - Park Rapids
on: 2018-07-22 10:11:10

Does anyone have any other uses besides jelly or wine for pincherry chokecherry black cherry Etc. For over 20 years I have been simply picking them & making jelly, regardless of what actual type of tree it is.

Posted by: Cindy T - Oakdale
on: 2018-07-25 11:04:34

One just popped up in our yard. Haven't gotten to try the fruit, because the animals eat them before they are ripe. :)

Posted by: Tara - Virginia
on: 2019-01-14 13:05:25

When I was growing up, I would visit my grandmother in Virginia, MN in the summer. Her neighbor had a couple of pin cherry trees on their property. I loved eating the berries right off the tree. They were sweet and a little bit sour. So yummy. The neighbor was also kind enough to let me fill a baggie full for the long bus ride back home. I live on the east coast now and have been searching everywhere for this kind of berry. The closest I've found are red currants that I recently purchased at a grocery store.

Posted by: William Thompson - Minneapolis and Grand Rapids/Itasca county
on: 2022-04-02 13:11:58

finally got my Pin Cherry tree and it's growing down in Minneapolis (7 years I have tried)

Posted by: Sherman in Duluth - Mostly in the woods.
on: 2022-06-23 08:25:16

My dad grew up in Ely mn, so I was introduced to these and other wild fruits when at the cabin or hunting or fishing near Virginia MN or Canada. I also looked closely at leaves of plants and trees that interested me. One year in Virginia when I was about 13, I saw a small seedling growing in my dad's onion patch in his vegetable garden. I told him that it looked like a pin cherry tree though there were were no wild trees in the treeless young neighborhood. We moved the tree to a spot in the back yard where it grew to be a 15 ft Pin Cherry tree. It grew plenty of Pin Cherries to snack on.

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