Genus: Prunus-Cherries, Plums, and Peaches

by Candace Paige Anderson

Picture of Rosaceae Family

Higher Taxon: Rosaceae- the Rose family of which species in the genus Prunus are members.

Description of Higher Taxon: (Cited from North American Trees by Richard J. Preston)

  • HABIT: Shrubs or usually small trees, only a few species reaching sizes of significance.
  • LEAVES: Alternate, simple; deciduous or persistent; usually serrate, rarely entire; stipules free from petiole, early deciduous; petiolate.
  • FLOWERS: Regular; perfect or rarely dioecious; solitary or in terminal or axillary racemes, corymbs, or umbels; appearing from separate buds with , before or after leaves; calyx 5-lobed tubular; corolla 5-petaled, usually white, deciduous, s tamens usually 15-20; ovary inserted in bottom of calyx tube; inferior or superior, 1-celled, 2-ovuled.
  • FRUIT: Thin dry, or thick fleshy, 1-seeded drupe; stone bony, smooth or rugose; indehiscent; important as food in several species. Seed: filling cavity of nut, suspended; thin-coated, pale brown.
  • TWIGS: Slender or stout; round; often with spur branches; red to brown; marked by lenticels, stipulate scars, usually by small, elevated, horizontal leaf scars with 3 bundle scars. Winter buds: terminal present or absent; lateral usually equ al in size; scales imbricated, the inner often colored.
  • BARK: Astringent; gray to dark brown; plated or scaly.
  • WOOD: From light to heavy and hard; fine-textured; diffuseporous; durable; heartwood light to dark brown, often reddish; sapwood lighter colored; a few species are important for timber.

    KEY(Cited From Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas by Albert Radford, Harry Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell)

    SPECIES LIST (Cited from Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas by Albert Radford, Harry Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell)

    (1) Prunus Alleghaniensis (Allegheny Plum)
    (2) Prunus Americana (American Plum)
    (3) Prunus Angustifolia (Chickasaw Plum)
    (4) Prunus Avium (Mazzard Cherry)
    (5) Prunus Carolina (Carolina Laurelcherry)
    (6) Prunus Cerasus. (Sour Cherry)
    (7) Prunus Domestica (Garden Plum)
    (8) Prunus Emarginata (Bitter Cherry)
    (9) Prunus Hortulana (Hortulan Plum)
    (10)Prunus Ilicifolia (Hollyleaf Cherry)
    (11)Prunus Insititia (Damson Plum)
    (12) Prunus Lyonii (Catalina Cherry)
    (13) Prunus Mahaleb (Mahaleb)
    (14) Prunus Mexicana (Mexican Plum)
    (15) Prunus Munsoniana (Wildgoose Plum)
    (16) Prunus Myrtifolia (Myrtle Laurelcherry)
    (17) Prunus Nigra(Canada Plum)
    (18) Prunus Pensylvanica (Pin Cherry)
    (19) Prunus Persica (Peach)
    (20) Prunus Serotina(Black Cherry)
    (21) Prunus Spinosa (Sloe)
    (22) Prunus Subcordata (Klamath Plum)
    (23) Prunus Umbellata (Flatwoods Plum)
    (24) runus Virginiana (Common Chokeberry)

    IDENTIFICATION GUIDE (Cited from North American Trees by Richard J. Preston)