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Prunus cornuta (Royle) Steud.

Himalayan Bird Cherry

Modern name

Prunus cornuta (Wall. ex Royle) Steud.


Cerasus cornuta Royle; Padus cornuta (Royle) Carr.

A deciduous tree 50 to 60 ft high in the wild; young shoots either finely downy or quite glabrous. Leaves ovate-oblong, or somewhat obovate, 3 to 6 in. long, 112 to 2 in. wide, the base varying from heart-shaped to tapering, the apex slender-pointed, the margins finely toothed, downy along the midrib and veins beneath when young, deep dull green above, paler beneath; stalk 12 to 114 in. long, mostly with glands at the top. Flowers white, densely set on cylindrical, quite glabrous, or finely downy racemes, 3 to 6 in. long, 34 to 1 in. wide; each flower is 14 to 13 in. across. Fruits round, 13 in. in diameter, red, changing to dark brown purple. Flowers in May. Bot. Mag., t. 9423.

Native of the Himalaya as far east as Sikkim, and the representative in that region of P. padus. So nearly are they allied that many botanists regard them as forms of one species. According to travellers in the Himalaya, P. cornuta grows to considerably larger size than does P. padus as we know it in England. The name cornuta (horned) refers to the shape of the fruits as often seen in the Himalaya. An insect deposits its eggs in the young fruit, and as the larvae develop they set up irritation and cause a curious growth, which is from 1 to 2 in. long and curled like a horn. It is analogous to the many galls that occur on our own trees – notably oaks.

P. napaulensis (Ser.) Steud. Cerasus napaulensis Ser. – This species is closely allied to P. cornuta and most reliably distinguished from it by its fruits, which have thickened and markedly lenticellate pedicels. It differs, too, in its leaves, which are notably narrower than in P. cornuta, the blades being usually 234 to 434 in. long, 34 to 1 in. wide, rarely up to 534 in. long and 178 in. wide. Seringe aptly compared the foliage to that of Salix fragilis.



Other species in the genus