Life History & Disturbance Response of Prunus serotina black cherry
Guild: opportunistic, fast-growing understory tolerant
Functional Lifeform: medium-size to large deciduous
Ecological Role: grows best on mesic sites and
occurs in many mixed-species forest types; colonizes old fields and forest
openings; shade tolerant seedlings must be released to survive
Lifespan, yrs (typical/max): 100/250
Shade Tolerance: intolerant/intermediate
Height, m: 20-38
Canopy Tree: yes
Pollination Agent: insects
Seeding, yrs (begins/optimal/declines): 10/25/100
Mast Frequency, yrs: 1-5
New Cohorts Source: seeds or sprouts
Flowering Dates: late spring
Flowers/Cones Damaged by Frost: yes
Seedfall Begins: summer
Seed Banking: 1 yr +
Cold Stratification Required: yes
Seed Type/Dispersal Distance/Agent:
drupe/ to 100 m/ gravity, birds, other animals
Season of Germination: spring
Seedling Rooting System: variable
Sprouting: stump sprouts common
Establishment Seedbed Preferences
Light: overstory shade
Moisture: moist required
Fire: Black cherry populations tolerate occasional,
low-intensity surface fires, but not frequent or moderate- to high-intensity
fire. It is thin-barked and most trees are killed or topkilled by fire.
Once larger than about 10 cm d.b.h., black cherry is moderately resistant
to low-intensity fires. If topkilled, it resprouts prolifically from the
root crown after one fire, but frequent fires would probably eliminate
it. Germination is probably not promoted by fire. Black cherry does not
require scarified seedbeds and it seems likely that fire degrades site
requirements for good seedling establishment. However, black cherry seedbanks
are a source of copious quantities of seed, and the seed's stony endocarp
and the soil covering probably provide some insulation from fire damage.
Birds and other animals may also bring some seed into burned areas.
Weather: Black cherry is very intolerant of flooding
and is susceptible to windthrow. Sapling and pole-sized trees are susceptible
to bending and breaking after glaze or wet snow storms.
Air pollution: Symptoms of foliar injury have been
noted in areas of high ambient ozone and after fumigation (extremely sensitive).
No difference in height and biomass accumulation was observed among seedlings
fumigated with ozone under controlled conditions.