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Prunus emarginata (Hook.) Eaton

Bitter Cherry

Modern name

Prunus emarginata (Douglas ex Hook.) Walp.


Cerasus emarginata Dougl. ex Hook.

This species seems to be represented in cultivation by the following variety:

var. mollis (Hook.) Brewer & Watson Cerasus mollis Dougl. ex Hook.; C. pattoniana Carr. – A deciduous tree, sometimes 30 to 40 ft high, with a trunk 1 ft or more in diameter; branches downy when young, becoming glabrous with age; bark exceedingly bitter. Leaves obovate-oblong, usually rounded or blunt at the apex, tapering towards the base, 112 to 212 in. long, scarcely half as wide, finely and bluntly toothed, downy beneath; stalk about 14 in. long. Flowers dullish white, not 12 in. across, produced six to twelve together in May on corymbose clusters 112 in. long, each flower on a downy stalk 14 to 12 in. long; petals notched at the apex; calyx downy, lobes rounded. Fruits 14 to 12 in. diameter, red, finally almost black.

A native of British Columbia and Oregon; discovered by David Douglas; introduced to Britain in 1861-2 and at first known in gardens as Cerasus pattoniana – the name under which the seeds were distributed. It is a handsome tree of healthy aspect and of neat habit, but its flowers are not sufficiently pure white to be really effective. The bark, leaves, and fruit are permeated by an intensely bitter principle.

Typical P. emarginata is less downy or almost completely glabrous, and is usually of smaller stature. It has a wider range in western North America than the var. mollis. It, too, was discovered by David Douglas.



Other species in the genus