Bird cherry

Prunus padus


As its name suggests, this native tree is related to the wild cherry. It is a useful tree for a variety of wildlife. The flowers provide nectar and pollen for insects and the fruit are eaten by birds, badgers and small mammals. Additionally, some species of moth caterpillar eat the leaves.

How to identify

It has smooth, peeling, grey/brown bark which has an unpleasant acrid scent. The dark green, oval leaves are generally hairless or have tufts of white hairs on the underside along the veins. Their edges have fine, sharp serrations and the tips of the leaves are pointed. There are two glands on the stalk at the leaf base. The fragrant flowers appear around April and have five white petals. The small fruit is dark red/ black and has a bitter taste.

Where to find it

The bird cherry grows in moist woodland or stream edges. It may also be found in hedgerows. As it can tolerate greater exposure and elevation than wild cherry it is often found in upland woodland.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves and hedgerows sympathetically for all kinds of species. A mix of coppicing, hedge-laying, ride maintenance and non-intervention all help woodland and hedgerow wildlife to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to surveying for butterflies.

Species information

Common name
Bird cherry
Latin name
Prunus padus
Trees and shrubs
Tree up to 20m tall, leaves 7-13cm long
Conservation status
Least concern