Prunus serotina Ehrh.

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English Black cherry Status LU: established. 1st record: LU <1910, ITW 1960.
Lëtzebuergesch Spéid Drauwekiischt Status Eur.: established. 1st record: FR 1620s. 1
Français Cerisier d’automne RA: ISEIA: B1, Watch List. Harmonia+: 0,32.
Deutsch Spätblühende Traubenkirsche Wikipedia: Wikipedia - English - Black cherry Wikipedia - Français - Cerisier d'automne Wikipedia - Deutsch - Spätblühende Traubenkirsche Wikipedia - Nederlands - Amerikaanse_vogelkers | Wikispecies: Wikispecies - Prunus serotina | CABI
Nederlands Amerikaanse vogelkers Back to the list of neophytes

Report the species

Report Prunus serotina to the National Museum of Natural History.

Brief description

Amerikaanse vogelkers Prunus serotinaPrunus serotina Ehrh. prefers dry to moist sandy soils. It is an opportunistic gap-phase tree species efficiently dispersed over long distances by fruit-eating birds and mammals. It thrives in forest clearings and woodlands dominated by light-demanding species such as oak, pine or birch. It can also invade various types of semi-natural open habitats with a wide range of humidity levels like wetlands, bogs, heathlands, dry grasslands and dunes.

Black cherry forms dense, highly competitive thickets, e.g. through root sprouting. In forest ecosystems, it locally affects the development of ground and shrub layers. It may temporarily inhibit vegetation succession, especially in large forest openings. It is able to reduce plant species richness or modify the composition of plant communities (e.g. in heavily invaded stands on moist soils). Invasion of forest ecosystems by P. serotina can change humus conditions and reduce soil water availability due to increased interception and transpiration. It can also prevent forest rejuvenation and increase plantation costs. Impact on biodiversity is especially marked when black cherry colonises open habitats containing rare species like heathlands, dry grasslands or dune ecosystems. The whole plant contains cyanic acid and is toxic for livestock. It is poorly consumed by deer, which may favour invasion rate in habitats where deer are overabundant (Branquart et al. 2012).

Status and distribution in Luxembourg

Records of Prunus serotina Ehrh. in Luxembourg. Data source: Recorder-Lux, iNaturalist & GBIF, 2021-04-21.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the forestry administration decided to carry out trials of growing coniferous trees and exotic plants, little known in the Grand Duchy until then, in the Paschent estate in the Marscherwald forest. Between 1903 and 1910, 266870 plants of 19 species were planted, including 400 Prunus serotina. Half a century later it was found that the black cherry had not given the result expected of it, that it is of no importance in the young hardwood forest (Gillen 1951: 87). 2

During an excursion of the Luxembourg Naturalist Society on 1952-05-01 in these plantations, Prunus serotina was observed amongst most species listed by Gillen (1951) (Anonyme 1953). 3

We thus conclude that the first record of Prunus serotina should be dated before 1910 and the first documented sighting can be dated on 1952-05-01.

The first observation in the wild was made by Léopold Reichling on 1960-08-31 at Grondmillen in the municipality of Esch-sur-Sûre (MNHNL 2000-).

Currently, 36 records of the black cherry are accessible through the MNHNL-mdata portal (MNHNL, iNaturalist & GBIF 2021).

The black cherry is grown for ornamental purposes in parks and along roads. Often subspontaneous or naturalised: woods, moors, hedges, wastelands (Lambinon & Verloove 2012: 366).

Risk assessment

ISEIA protocol

B1 (2+2+3+3) = Watch List (Ries et al. 2013: 18).

Harmonia+ protocol

Overall risk score 0,32 = (Overall Invasion score 0,56 x Overall Impact score 0,58) (Ries et al. 2020).


Worldwide distribution


  • Anonyme, 1953. Excursion du 1er mai 1952. Herborisation de Rippig à Junglinster par Marscherwald, moulin de Reuland, Blumenthal, Belenbusch. Guides: Eugène Beck & Emile Gillen. Bulletin de la Société des naturalistes luxembourgeois 57 (1952): 233-234.
  • Branquart, E., S. Vanderhoeven, M. Vanhellemont, W. Van Landuyt, F. Van Rossum, K. Verheyen & F. Verloove, 2012. Harmonia database: Prunus serotina Ehrh.. Harmonia version 1.2, Belgian Forum on Invasive Species. URL: [accessed on 2019-10-15]
  • CABI, 2021. Prunus serotina. In: Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK: CAB International. URL: [accessed 2021-03-05]
  • Gillen, E., 1951. La Forêt de « Marscherwald ». Service Information et presse, Bulletin d’information 5: 86-87. [PDF 300 KB]
  • Lambinon J. & F. Verloove, 2012. Nouvelle flore de la Belgique, du grand-duché de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des régions voisines. Sixième édition. Avec la collaboration de L. Delvosalle, B. Toussaint, D. Geerinck, I. Hoste, F. Van Rossum, B. Cornier, R. Schumacker, A. Vanderpoorten et H. Vannerom. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise. CXXXIX + 1195 pp. ISBN : 9789072619884.
  • MNHNL, 2000-. Prunus serotina Ehrh. in Recorder-Lux, database on the natural heritage of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Musée national d’histoire naturelle, Luxembourg. URL: [Accessed 2019-10-15]
  • MNHNL, iNaturalist & GBIF, 2019. Prunus serotina Ehrh. in MNHNL-mdata, online portal combining species observation from Recorder-Lux, iNaturalist and GBIF. National Museum of Natural History, Luxembourg. URL: [Accessed 2021-01-13]
  • Ries, C. & Y. Krippel, 2021 [Unpublished manuscript]. First records of 56 invasive alien vascular plants in Luxembourg. MNHNL & Naturpark Öewersauer.
  • Ries, C., Y. Krippel & M. Pfeiffenschneider, 2020. Risk assessment after the Harmonia+ protocol of invasive alien vascular plant species in Luxembourg. Bull. Soc. Nat. luxemb. 122: 197-205. [PDF 132 KB]
  • Ries, C., Y. Krippel, M. Pfeiffenschneider & S. Schneider, 2013. Environmental impact assessment and black, watch and alert list classification after the ISEIA Protocol of non-native vascular plant species in Luxembourg. Bull. Soc. Nat. luxemb. 114: 15-21. [PDF 652 KB]
  • Welter A., J.Turk & J. Trossen, 2008. Les arbres introduits au Luxembourg. Inventaire des essences arborescentes non indigènes de pleine terre présentes sur le territoire du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg. Ferrantia 53, Musée national d’histoire naturelle, Luxembourg, ISSN 1682-5519, 111 pp.

 Page content last updated on 2021-03-05. Last proofread by Caroline Grounds on 2019-11-20.