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Sand Cherry

Prunus pumila L.

Brief Summary

    Prunus pumila: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia

    Prunus pumila, commonly called sand cherry, is a North American species of cherry in the rose family. It is widespread in eastern and central Canada from New Brunswick west to Saskatchewan and the northern United States from Maine to Montana, south as far as Colorado, Kansas, Indiana, and Virginia, with a few isolated populations in Tennessee and Utah. It grows in sandy locations such as shorelines and dunes.

    Prunus pumila is a deciduous shrub that grows to 2-6 feet tall depending on the variety. It forms dense clonal colonies by sprouts from the root system. The leaves are leathery, 4–7 centimetres (1.6–2.8 in) long, with a serrated margin. The flowers are 15–25 millimetres (0.59–0.98 in) in diameter with five white petals and 25–30 stamens. They are produced in small clusters of two to four. The fruit is a small cherry 13–15 millimetres (0.51–0.59 in) diameter, ripening dark purple in early summer.

    Varieties Prunus pumila var. besseyi (Bailey) Gleason, western sand cherry (also called Rocky Mountain cherry) - Saskatchewan, Manitoba, western Ontario, south to Colorado and Kansas Prunus pumila var. depressa (Pursh) Gleason, eastern sand cherry - Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick south to Pennsylvania Prunus pumila var. pumila, Great Lakes sand cherry - shores of Great Lakes Prunus pumila var. susquehanae (hort. ex Willd.) Jaeger, Susquehana sand cherry - from Manitoba east to Maine, south to Tennessee

    Prunus × cistena (purple leaf sand cherry) is a hybrid of Prunus cerasifera (Cherry Plum) and Prunus pumila. It was developed by Niels Ebbesen Hansen of South Dakota State University in 1910.

Comprehensive Description

Distribution

    Distribution
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants

    Sand cherry is widely distributed across the northern half of the United States and eastern Canada. It occurs from Quebec and Newfoundland south to Tennessee and Arkansas and west to Utah, Montana, and Saskatchewan [10,43]. Plants Database provides a distribution map of sand cherry and its varieties.

    Varieties: Western sand cherry occurs from Ontario south to Arkansas and west to Utah, Montana, and Saskatchewan. Eastern sand cherry occurs from Quebec and Newfoundland south to Tennessee and west to Ontario. Great Lakes sand cherry occurs from Ontario south to Pennsylvania and west to Iowa and Minnesota. Sesquehana sand cherry occurs from Quebec and Newfoundland south to Virginia and west to Minnesota and Manitoba [43,80].

    Regional Distribution in the Western United States
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    This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

    BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS [8]:





    8 Northern Rocky Mountains

    9 Middle Rocky Mountains

    10 Wyoming Basin

    12 Colorado Plateau

    13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont

    14 Great Plains

    15 Black Hills Uplift

    16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
    States or Provinces
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    (key to state/province abbreviations)
    UNITED STATES AR CO CT DE IN IA KS ME MD MA MI MN MT NE NH NJ NY NC ND OH PA RI SD TN UT VT VA WV WI WY DC                  
    CANADA MB NB NF NS ON PQ SK      

Morphology

    Description
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: drupe, fruit, perfect, seed, shrub

    This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Several florae provide keys for identifying sand cherry (e.g., [29,71,73,87]).

    Sand cherry is a native, diffusely-branched shrub that grows from 1.5 to 9.1 feet (0.5-3.0 m) in height. The shrub may be decumbent or prostrate when growing on dunes or other wind-blown sites [10,73]. The leaves are generally oblanceolate and 0.4 to 0.8 inch (10-20 mm) wide. Leaves of  Sesquehana sand cherry are often 0.8 to 1.2 inches (20-30 mm) wide [10]. The perfect flowers occur in umbel-like clusters of 2 to 4. The fruit is a one-seeded drupe 0.4 to 0.6 inch (10-15 mm) in diameter. The seed is a flattened stone 0.3 inch (7-8 mm) in diameter [10,29,73]. Sand cherry has a spreading root system that grows primarily in the mineral soil layer >9.8 inches (25 cm) deep with some roots penetrating to a depth of 8 to 12 feet (2.6-4.0 m) [77,91]. Sand cherry is rhizomatous; rhizomes are uniformly abundant in the shallow and deeper soil layers [92].

    There is some evidence that sand cherry may be allelopathic.  In field and greenhouse studies, extracts from sand cherry leaves completely prevented the germination of jack pine seedlings and also inhibited seedling growth [11,55,65].

Habitat

    Habitat characteristics
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    More info for the term: serpentine soils

    Sand cherry typically grows on sandy, gravelly, and rocky soils, dunes, beaches, and outwash plains. Sites are typically dry and excessively drained [10,71,72,82]. The species will grow on calcareous, saline, or serpentine soils [10], and will tolerate a lower soil ph of  4.0 [83]. Western sand cherry is rated as winter hardy to -40 oF (-40 oC) [41].

    Information on the elevational ranges of sand cherry is not available for all areas in which it occurs. The following table summarizes reported elevational ranges of sand cherry.

    Area Elevation CO 3,500 to 6,500 feet (1,050-1,900 m) [33] Adirondacks 1,040 feet (320 m) [46] Great Lake States 650 to 1,300 feet (200-400 m) ON 660 to 1,300 feet (200-400 m) [7]
    Habitat: Cover Types
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    This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

    More info for the term: cover

    SAF COVER TYPES [24]:





    1 Jack pine

    14 Northern pin oak

    15 Red pine

    22 White pine-hemlock

    237 Interior ponderosa pine
    Habitat: Ecosystem
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    This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

    ECOSYSTEMS [28]:





    FRES10 White-red-jack pine

    FRES21 Ponderosa pine

    FRES38 Plains grasslands

    FRES39 Prairie
    Habitat: Plant Associations
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    This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

    More info for the term: forest

    KUCHLER [45] PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:





    K016 Eastern ponderosa forest

    K017 Black Hills pine forest

    K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe

    K064 Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass

    K066 Wheatgrass-needlegrass

    K067 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass

    K069 Bluestem-grama prairie

    K074 Bluestem prairie

    K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie

    K095 Great Lakes pine forest
    Habitat: Rangeland Cover Types
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    This species is known to occur in association with the following Rangeland Cover Types (as classified by the Society for Range Management, SRM):

    More info for the term: cover

    SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES [70]:




    310 Needle-and-thread-blue grama

    601 Bluestem prairie

    602 Bluestem-prairie sandreed

    603 Prairie sandreed-needlegrass

    604 Bluestem-grama prairie

    606 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass

    607 Wheatgrass-needlegrass

    608 Wheatgrass-grama-needlegrass

    609 Wheatgrass-grama
    Key Plant Community Associations
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: association, cover, cover type, forest, habitat type, shrub

    Sand cherry most commonly occurs on dry sites in grass-dominated communities, but
    it may also flourish in the shrub layer of some forest cover types.
    Publications that discuss plant communities in which sand cherry naturally
    occurs are listed below. The list is neither restrictive nor all inclusive.

    United States



    IA:



    • big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) community type [81]





    IN:


    • dunes dominated by prairie sandreed (Calamovilfa longifolia) [9]



    • dunes on Lake Michigan dominated by little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) [93]




    KS:


    • on northerly aspects of little bluestem vegetation types [1]




    MI:


    • sand dunes on Lake Michigan with beachgrass (Ammophila breviligulata) and willow (Salix spp.) [49,54]




    MN:


    • sandy outwashes in the red pine (Pinus resinosa) forest type [72]



    • jack pine-red oak (P. banksiana-Quercus rubra) ecological type [47]





    NB:


    • ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa) forest type [78]




    ND:


    • ponderosa pine forest type [59]



    • needle-and-thread grass (Hesperostipa comata)-prairie sandreed-sedge (Carex spp.) vegetation type



    • ponderosa pine-bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) type [90]




    NE:


    • sandhills mixed prairie dunes dominated by needle-and-thread grass, prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha),
      and sand bluestem (Andropogon hallii) [4,5,89]


    • sand dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus) sandhills vegetation type with
      hairy grama (Bouteloua hirsuta) and blue grama (B. gracilis) [12]





    SD:



    • Blackhills in the oak-sumac (Quercus-Rhus spp.) association [34]



    • ponderosa pine forest type [39]



    • dune habitats with blowout grass (Redfieldia flexuosa), sandhill muhly
      (Muhlenbergia pungens), sand bluestem, and prairie sandreed [76]



    • shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda)-little bluestem habitat type [38]






    WI:



    • mixed jack pine and red pine forest type [23]


    • mixed shrub savannahs with hazelnut (Corylus americana), willow,
      rose (Rosa spp.), serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), and pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) [31]





    Great Lake States:



    • red pine forest type [69]


    • red pine forest type of the pine and hemlock (Tsuga spp.) cover type [7]


    • northern pin oak (Q. ellipsoidalis) cover type [68,69]



    Canada




    ON:



    • mixed jack pine, red pine, and eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) forest type [20,21]


    • red pine forest type [37]


    • red pine forest type of the pine and hemlock cover type [7,69]






    PQ:


    • red pine forest type [69]


General Ecology

    Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: cover, frequency, seed

    Spring burns were conducted annually on a bluestem prairie in southwestern
    Minnesota. Fire severities were generally considered to be low to moderate.
    Western sand cherry sprouted well on all plots and maintained a similar percent
    cover on all plots over the 5-year sampling period. There was an initial
    late-season increase in percent cover of western sand cherry in burn years,
    but cover returned to prefire levels by the following spring [6].

    A summer burn was conducted in a jack-white-red pine stand in Ontario, and
    vegetation sampling was done 4 years after the burn. Sand cherry cover was not
    significantly different (p<0.05) when averaged across burned versus unburned
    plots. Sand cherry regeneration occurred exclusively from sprouts, not from seed
    [92].


    In the jack pine barrens of Wisconsin, vegetation sampling found that frequent,
    repeated fires reduced sand cherry frequency by as much as 25% when compared
    to unburned sites [84].

    Fire Ecology
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: fire regime, forest, grassland, seed, severity

    Fire adaptations: Reestablishment of sand cherry primarily occurs from sprouting [6,92]. Although not documented in the literature, sand cherry could presumably colonize burned areas when off-site seed is transported on-site by birds or mammals.

    FIRE REGIMES: Sand cherry occurs in plant communities and ecosystems with a wide range of historic fire frequencies. In the prairie and grassland communities, fires were relatively frequent with intervals ranging from <10 years to <35 years [56]. The fire intervals in the forest ecosystems were highly variable. In interior ponderosa pine and red pine communities, for example, fires were typically frequent low severity surface fires [2,14]. Conversely, red-white pine and jack pine communities experienced a mixed-severity regime with low to moderate severity at frequent intervals and stand-replacing fires over longer intervals [15]. As of this writing (2006), fire ecology studies are lacking for sand cherry. The following table provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where sand cherry occurs. Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find FIRE REGIMES".

    Community or ecosystem Dominant species Fire return interval range (years) bluestem prairie Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium 44,56] Nebraska sandhills prairie Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus-Schizachyrium scoparium 56] plains grasslands Bouteloua spp. 56,94] blue grama-needle-and-thread grass-western wheatgrass Bouteloua gracilis-Hesperostipa comata-Pascopyrum smithii 56,67,94] wheatgrass plains grasslands Pascopyrum smithii <5-47+ [56,63,94] jack pine Pinus banksiana <35 to 200 [15,19] interior ponderosa pine* Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum 2-30 [2,3,48] red pine (Great Lakes region) Pinus resinosa 3-18 (x=3-10) [14,26] red-white pine* (Great Lakes region) Pinus resinosa-P. strobus 3-200 [15,35,50] eastern white pine-eastern hemlock Pinus strobus-Tsuga canadensis 35-200 northern pin oak Quercus ellipsoidalis <35 [85] little bluestem-grama prairie Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp. <35 [56] *fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species review
    Fire Management Considerations
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    More info for the term: fire management

    Information on sand cherry and fire management is lacking. Further research is needed.
    Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
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    More info on this topic.

    More info for the term: geophyte

    RAUNKIAER [64] LIFE FORM:
    Geophyte
    Immediate Effect of Fire
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Moderate- or low-severity fires can kill the above ground stems and roots of sand cherry [6]. Rhizomes located in the deeper soils layers, >10 inches (>25 cm), are insulated from the heat, and may survive even high-severity fires. However, rhizomes and roots in the upper soil layer are more susceptible to heat injury and may be killed by moderate- or high-severity fires [92].
    Life Form
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    More info for the term: shrub

    shrub
    Plant Response to Fire
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    Sand cherry sprouts from rhizomes and roots following fire [91], and has been observed to sprout within the same year following a spring burn [6]. Reestablishment of  sand cherry after fire may also include seeds brought to the site by birds and mammals, but information on seedling recruitment of sand cherry following fire is lacking.
    Post-fire Regeneration
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    More info for the terms: geophyte, rhizome, secondary colonizer, seed, shrub

    POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY [74]:
    Rhizomatous shrub, rhizome in soil
    Geophyte, growing points deep in soil
    Secondary colonizer (on-site or off-site seed sources)
    Regeneration Processes
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    More info for the terms: forest, fruit, monoecious, natural, seed, stratification

    Sand cherry regenerates by both seeds and sprouts [22,54,57].

    Breeding system: Sand cherry is monoecious and self-fertile [30,73].

    Pollination: Sand cherry is pollinated by insects [10,30].

    Seed production: Sand cherry starts producing seed at 2 to 3 years of age. An average of 17 pounds (7.6 kg) of seed can be recovered from 100 pounds (45 kg) of  fruit yielding 1,500 to 2,965 seeds per pound (3,300-6523/kg) [30,42,53].

    Seed dispersal: Sand cherry seeds are primarily spread by birds and small mammals that eat the fruit [10,30].

    Seed banking: Whittle and others [91] found no evidence of seed banking by sand cherry in a jack pine ecosystem in Ontario. Additional information on the seed banking of sand cherry is lacking.

    Germination: Sand cherry has been described as being "extremely dormant". It requires moist cold stratification before germination will occur [36]. Greenhouse studies have found that the best germination occurs after 100 days of wet chilling at 41 oF (5 oC) or 120 days at 33 oF (1 oC) [30,53].

    Seedling establishment/growth: Although there is good information on the artificial cultivation of sand cherry seedlings, detailed information on natural seedling development is limited. Olson [54] reported that seedling invasion of sand cherry occurs on new dunes of southern Lake Michigan. Plummer [57] described sand cherry as having a "moderate seed spread". However, Whittle and others [92] reported that no seedling establishment occurred within the first 4 years following a prescribed burn in a mixed jack-red-white pine forest in Ontario.

    Artificial cultivation of sand cherry seedlings is discussed in Value for Rehabilitation of Disturbed Sites.

    Asexual regeneration: Sand cherry reproduces vegetatively by sprouting from the roots and rhizomes [32,54,92].

    Successional Status
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    More info for the term: shrubs

    Sand cherry is usually found on open habitats with little shade from trees or other shrubs [10]. Although it does occur in many different forested communities, the specific sites are often along edges of openings or in stands where canopy closure has not occurred [7,20,39,69].

    Sand cherry is considered a dune building species on the sand dunes of  Lake Michigan. Its deep root network helps to stabilize sand, allowing for the invasion of other plant species and colonization by "soil building" invertebrates such as ants [10,54]. Sand cherry is most abundant on dunes 55 years old or less, and decreases in abundance as dunes age [16,17,27,49].

Cyclicity

    Phenology
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    More info for the terms: fruit, shrub

    Sand cherry is a deciduous shrub with a typical winter dormancy. Flowering occurs from April to June, and fruits ripen from late July to September [10,32]. Flowers open with the leaves or when leaves are about half extended [29,53]. Sand cherry starts producing fruit in the 2nd or 3rd year of growth [32,83].

Conservation Status

    Conservation Status
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Sand cherry is state listed as threatened in Arkansas, and Tennessee. Eastern sand cherry is state listed as threatened in Massachusetts and New York. Great Lakes sand cherry is listed as endangered in New York and presumed extirpated in Ohio. Sesquehana sand cherry is state listed as threatened in Ohio and presumed extirpated in North Carolina [80].

Management

    Management considerations
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Plantings of sand cherry can be heavily damaged by rodent feeding, and fencing
    may be required to protect the plants in the first few years after planting.
    Older plants can recover from occasional feeding damage by sprouting [25].



    Sand cherry is classified as a grazing decreaser and is easily eliminated
    under abusive grazing [75].

Benefits

    Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
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    More info for the terms: cover, shrub

    Sand cherry provides fruits and cover for a variety of birds and other small animals [58]. White-tailed deer in Michigan lightly browse sand cherry [40]. Sharp-tailed grouse in the Nebraska sandhills feed on sand cherry fruits in the summer [61]. Rodents reportedly feed heavily on sand cherry twigs [25]. Black-tailed jackrabbits in Kansas are reported to "vigorously attack" sand cherry twigs in the winter after snowfall [66].

    Palatability/nutritional value: Sand cherry is reported to be a good quality forage for cattle, domestic sheep, deer, and pronghorn [75].

    Cover value: Sand cherry provides good brood habitat for sharp-tailed grouse in Wisconsin jack pine barrens [31]. In the jack pine barrens of northern Michigan, the shrub provides nesting and fledgling cover for Kirtland's warbler [51,60].

    Other uses and values
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    More info for the terms: fruit, rootstock, shrub

    The extensive root system and drought hardiness of sand cherry has made it a desirable shrub for erosion control and windbreak plantings throughout the Midwest [53]. Better performance in these planting can be achieved with fertilization [79]. For windbreak plantings, a 4-foot (1.2m) spacing is recommended [53].

    Sand cherry provides good dwarfing rootstock for peaches, apricots and plums [18]. Sand cherry, primarily western sand cherry, has been used to create hybrids with peach, apricot and plum. The resulting cultivars are generally quite winter hardy and bloom later in the spring which results in less spring freeze damage [62,88]. Hybrids of peach and sand cherry are largely sterile, but hybrids of Japanese plum and sand cherry are highly fertile [88].

    The purple sand cherry (Prunus × cistena), a cross between sand cherry and cherry plum (P. cerasifera), is a popular ornamental shrub desired for its colorful purple foliage [10].

    The fruit of sand cherry can be eaten raw or cooked or dried for later use.  The fruit can also be used to make jam, jelly or syrup [10].

    Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites
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    More info for the terms: restoration, scarification, seed

    Western sand cherry has been recommended for revegetation plantings in the Rocky Mountain and Intermountain west along road sides or other bare areas [25,58,86]. It is listed as being high in value for restoration of disturbed sites for its soil stabilizing characteristics [52]. Vogel [83] recommended sand cherry for use in revegetation of coal minespoils in the eastern United States primarily because of its tolerance of acidic soils.

    Sand cherry was first cultivated in the United States in 1756 [30]. It can be readily propagated from seeds and stem and root cuttings. Root cuttings should be collected in the winter, and stem cuttings taken in late spring or early summer. Seed can be collected in late summer or fall when fruits ripen, and all pulp should be removed before sowing or storing [53]. Seeds should undergo a moist cold scarification for at least 100 days and not be allowed to dry out before planting. Plant the seeds 2 to 3 inches (5.1-7.6 cm) apart and about 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5.1 cm) deep [30,32].

Taxonomy

    Common Names
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    sand cherry

    western sand cherry

    eastern sand cherry

    Great Lakes sand cherry

    Sesquehana sand cherry
    Synonyms
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Cerasus pumila (L.) Michx. ssp. besseyi (Bailey) W.A. Weber

    P. besseyi Bailey

    P. pumila L. ssp. besseyi (Bailey) Nizhnikev

       =Prunus pumila L. var. besseyi (Bailey) Gleason

    P. depressa Pursh

       =Prunus depressa (Pursh) Gleason

    Cerasus pumila (L.) Michx.

        =Prunus pumila L. var. pumila

    P. cuneata Raf.

    P. pumila L. cuneata (Raf.) Bailey

    Prunus susquehanae hort. ex Willd.

       =Prunus pumila L. var. susquehanae (hort. ex Willd.) Jaeger [10,13,43]
    Taxonomy
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants

    The scientific name of sand cherry is Prunus pumila L. (Rosaceae).
    Some systematists recognize 4 varieties of sand cherry [10,13,43].

    Prunus pumila L. var. besseyi (Bailey) Gleason, western sand cherry

    Prunus pumila L. var. depressa (Pursh) Gleason, eastern sand cherry

    Prunus pumila L. var. pumila, Great Lakes sand cherry

    Prunus pumila L. var. susquehanae (hort. ex Willd.) Jaeger, Sesquehana sand cherry


    Varieties are referred to by their common names in this review.