Wild Cherry (Prunus avium)

The Wild Cherry or Gean Tree (Prunus avium) is a very pretty native tree with beautiful blossom in the spring. It is well-suited to a large garden or part of a new native woodland planting.

  • Wild Cherry  -  Prunus Avium  -  Mature Tree In Blossom
  • Wild Cherry  -  Prunus Avium  -  Leaves
  • Wild Cherry  -  Prunus Avium  -  White Blossom
  • Wild Cherry  -  Prunus Avium  -  Winter Stems And Buds

Useful info about Wild Cherry trees

Latin NamePrunus avium
TypeDeciduous (loses its leaves in winter)
HeightCan grow up to 18 m (59ft)
SpreadThe branches can spread out to 7 m (23ft)
Soil Types PreferredChalk, Clay, Limestone, Loam, Sand
Locations SuitableBalconies, Farmland, Gardens, Hedgerows, Parks, Patios
FlowersWhite flowers in spring
FruitRed berries in autumn

Similar Species


Distinguishing features are the smooth grey bark, which exhibits mahogany-red colouring, in time peeling and becoming deeply fissured.

Attractive white cup-shaped flowers in clusters along with leaves appear in spring. Summer sees the production of masses of brilliantly coloured red-black coloured cherries. The jury is out on their edible qualities!

The fruit are readily eaten by numerous birds and mammals, which digest the fruit flesh and disperse the seeds in their droppings.

The tree exudes a gum from wounds in the bark, by which it seals the wounds to exclude insects and fungal infections.

This tree is of primary importance as a key native species and creates an important food source for a number of bird species.

Wild Cherry has been known as Gean or Mazzard, both largely obsolete names in modern English, though more recently 'Mazzard' has been used to refer to a selected self-fertile cultivar that comes true from seed, and which is used as a seedling rootstock for fruiting cultivars.

The name "wild cherry" has also been applied in a general or colloquial sense to other species of Prunus growing in their native habitats, particularly to Black Cherry Prunus serotina.


Wild Cherries have been an item of human food for several thousands of years. The stones have been found in deposits at bronze age settlements throughout Europe, including in Britain.

By 800 BC, cherries were being deliberately cultivated in Turkey, and soon after in Greece.

As the ancestor of the cultivated sweet cherry, the Wild Cherry is one of the two cherry species which supply most of the world's commercial cultivars of edible cherry (the other is the Sour Cherry Prunus cerasus, mainly used for cooking).

Various cherry cultivars are now grown world-wide wherever the climate is suitable; the number of cultivars is now very large. The species has also escaped from cultivation and become naturalised in some temperate regions, including southwestern Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the northeast and northwest of the United States.

The hard, reddish-brown wood is valued as a hardwood for turnery, and making cabinets and musical instruments.

The fruit can be cooked in pies etc or used to make preserves.

The gum from bark wounds is aromatic and can be chewed as a substitute for chewing gum.

Medicine can be prepared from the stalks of the drupes that is astringent, antitussive, and diuretic.

A green dye can also be prepared from the plant.


Any uses for trees or tree extracts, whether edible or medicinal, have not been tried or tested by EFORESTS.

Please take caution and seek proper advice before attempting any recipes or medicinal extracts from any of the trees listed on our site.

Culture and Symbolism

In The Scottish Highlands folklore tells us that the wild cherry had mysterious qualities, and encountering one was considered auspicious and fateful.

In Japan the Cherry tree, known as the 'Sakura' tree represents good fortune, new beginnings and revival.

Click here to dedicate a tree to be planted in a woodland in England, Scotland or Wales

Want to have a tree gift delivered to your door or to send a tree gift to someone special? We have a wide variety of UK native trees for sale in our tree shop.