Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
General: Bitter cherry (Prunus emarginata) is a native, deciduous shrub, four to twelve feet high, or sometimes a small tree up to thirty feet high (McMinn 1939). The leaves are oblong to oval, fine toothed, and rounded at the tip. The flowers are fragrant, blooming between April and May, in clusters of five to twelve. The bark has a generally smooth dark brown surface marked by horizontal light gray interrupted hands and by rows of oblong orange colored lenticels (Sargent 1961).
Distribution: Bitter cherry often forms extensive thickets on moist slopes and along stream banks in the transition and Canadian life zones in the coast ranges, the mountains of southern California and in the Sierra Nevada (McMinn 1939). It extends northward to Idaho and British Columbia and eastward to Nevada and Arizona (Ibid.). For current distribution, please consult the Plant profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.