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© Etienne Branquart
© Etienne Branquart
© Rasbak
© Rasbak
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© Etienne Branquart
© Etienne Branquart
Prunus serotina - Black cherry

Synonym: Padus serotina
French name:  Cerisier tardif
Dutch name: Amerikaanse vogelkers
Family: Amygdalaceae
Group: Vascular plants
Origin: North America
Habitat: terrestrial
Introduction:  forestry
ISEIA Score : 12
Naturalization in Belgium
First observation in the wild: 1890
Invasion stage: spread
Spatial distribution: widespread
Reproduction in the wild: yes
Dispersion potential: high
Natural habitats: high
More on invasiveness: Prunus serotina prefers dry to moist sandy soils. It is an opportunistic gap-phase tree species efficiently dispersed by fruit-eating birds and mammals (fox) over long distances. It thrives in forest openings and woodlands dominated by light-demanding species such as oak, pine or birch. It can also invade various types of semi-natural open habitats with a wide range of moisture like wetlands, bogs, heathlands, dry grasslands and dunes.
Distribution in Belgium
Established populations
absent from district
isolated populations (1-5 localities per district)
widespread (>5 localities per district)
Endangered areas
low risk
medium risk
high risk

Endangered Natura 2000 habitats ():
dune habitats: 21702180
heath & scrub: 4030
forest habitats: 91209190
dune habitats: 2160
Impacts on Species
Predation / Herbivory: low
Competition: high
Disease transmission: low
Genetic effects: low
Impacts on Ecosystems
Nutrient cycling: medium
Physical alteration: high
Natural successions: high
Food web alteration: low
More on impacts: Black cherry forms dense, highly competitive thickets, e.g. through root sprouting. In forest ecosystems, it locally affects the development of ground and shrub layers. It may temporarily inhibit vegetation succession, especially in large forest openings. It is able to reduce plant species richness or modify the composition of plant communities (e.g. in heavily invaded stands on moist soils). Invasion of forest ecosystems by P. serotina can change humus conditions and reduce soil water availability due to increased interception and transpiration. It can also prevent forest rejuvenation and increase plantation costs. Impact on biodiversity is especially marked when black cherry colonises open habitats containing rare species like heathlands, dry grasslands or dune ecosystems. The whole plant contains cyanic acid and is toxic for livestock. It is poorly consumed by deer, which may favour invasion rate in habitats where deer are overabundant.
Data Source & References
Authors: Branquart Etienne, Vanderhoeven Sonia, Vanhellemont Margot, Van Landuyt Wouter, Van Rossum Fabienne, Verheyen Kris, Verloove Filip
Published on:  21 November 2007
Last update:  14 September 2012
AEF (2006)
Cartes provisoires de la distribution de néophytes en Wallonie.
Unpublished document.
CPS-SKEW (2006)
Prunus serotina.
From online fact sheets of the Swiss Commission for Wild Plants Conservation.
Chabrerie, O., Loinard, J., Perrin, S., Saguez, R. & Decocq, G. (2010)
Impact of Prunus serotina invasion on understory functional diversity in a European temperate forest.
Biological Invasions 12: 1891-1907.
Chabrerie, O., Verheyen, K., Saguez, R. & Decocq, G. (2008)
Disentangling relationships between habitat conditions, disturbance history, plant diversity and American black cherry (Prunus serotina)invasion in a European temperate forest.
Diversity and Distributions 14(2): 204-212.
Closset-Kopp, D, Chabrerie, O, Valentin, B, Delachapelle, H & Decocq, G (2007)
When Oskar meets Alice: Does a lack of trade-off in r/K-strategies make Prunus serotina a successful invader of European forests?
Forest Ecology and Management 247, 120–130
Deckers, B., Verheyen, K., Hermy, M. and Muys, B. (2005)
Effects of landscape structure on the invasive spread of black cherry Prunus serotina in an agricultural landscape in Flanders, Belgium.
Ecography 28(1): 99-109.
Deckers, B., Verheyen, K., Van Hellemont, M., Maddens, E., Muys, B. & Hermy, M. (2008)
Impact of avian frugivores on dispersal and recruitment of the invasive Prunus serotina in an agricultural landscape.
Biological Invasions 10: 717–727.
Decocq, G. (2007)
Dynamique invasive du cerisier tardif, Prunus serotina Ehrh., en système forestier tempéré: déterminants, mécanismes, impacts écologiques, économiques et socioanthropologiques.
Rapport final.
Ehrenburg, A., van der Hagen, H. & Terlouw, L. (2008)
Amerikaanse vogelkers als invasieve soort in de kustduinen.
De Levende Natuur 109(6): 240-245.
Godefroid, S., Phartyal, S.S., Weyembergh, G. & Koedam, N. (2005)
Ecological factors controlling the abundance of non native invasive black cherry (Prunus serotina) in deciduous forest understory in Belgium.
Forest Ecology and Management 210: 91-105.
Horsley, S.B., Stout, S.L. & de Calesta, D.S. (2003)
White-tailed deer impact on the vegetation dynamics of a Northern hardwood forest.
Ecological Applications 13(1): 98–118.
Jacquemart, A.L., Decocq, O., Vanhellemont, M.& Verheyen, K. (2010)
Faut-il lutter ou vivre avec ? Le cas de l'invasion par le cerisier tardif Prunus serotina.
Silva Belgica 117: 16-22.
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Predicting invasions by woody species in a temperate zone: a test of three risk assessment schemes in Czech Republic.
Diversity and Distributions 12: 319-327.
Lambinon, J., Delvosalle, L. & Duvigneaud, J. (2004)
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Editions du Patrimoine du Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise.
Muller, S. (2004)
Plantes invasives en France : état des connaissances et propositions d'actions.
Publication scientifique du Museum d'Histoire naturelle, Patrimoines naturels n°62.
Mulligan, G.A. & Munro, D.B. (1981)
The biology of Canadian weeds.5I. Prunus virginiana L. and P. serotina Ehrh.
Canadian Journal of Plant Science 61: 977-992.
Pairon, M., Jonard, M. & Jacquemart, A.-L. (2006)
Modeling seed dispersal of black cherry, an invasive forest tree: how microsatellites may help?
Can. J. For. Res. 36(6): 1385–1394.
Pairon, M., Vervoort, A. & Jacquemart, A.L. (2006)
Le cerisier tardif (Prunus serotina) : biologie et moyens de lutte.
Forêt wallonne 83: 22-31.
Sebert-Cuvillier, E., Simon-Goyheneche, V., Paccaut, F., Chabrerie, O., Goubet, O. & Decocq, G. (2008)
Spatial spread of an alien tree species in a heterogeneous forest landscape: a spatially realistic simulation model.
Landscape Ecology 23: 787–801.
Starfinger, U. (2006)
Invasive alien species fact sheet Prunus serotina.
From online database of the North European and Baltic network on invasive alien species (NOBANIS).
Starfinger, U., Kowarik, I., Rode, M. & Schepker, H. (2003)
From desirable ornamental plant to pest to accepted addition to the flora? – the perception of an alien tree species through the centuries.
Biological Invasions 5: 323–335.
Uchytil, R. J. (1991)
Prunus serotina.
In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).
Van Landuyt, W., Hoste, I., Vanhecke, L., Van den Bremt, P. Vercruysse, W. & De Beer, D. (2006)
Atlas van de Flora van Vlaanderen en het Brussels gewest.
Nationale Plantentuin en het Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek i.s.m. Flo.Wer vzw.
Vanderhoeven, S., Dassonville, N. & Meerts, P. (2005)
Increased topsoil mineral nutrient concentrations under exotic invasive plants in Belgium.
Pland and Soil 275: 169-179.
Vanhellemont, M. (2009)
Present and future population dynamics of Prunus serotina in forests in its introduced range.
PhD Thesis, Unversity of Ghent.
Vanhellemont, M., Baeten, L., Verbeeck, H., Hermy, M. & Verheyen, K. (2011)
Long-term scenarios of the invasive black cherry in pine-oak forest: Impact of regeneration success.
Acta Oecologica 37(3): 203–211.
Vanhellemont, M., Verheyen, K., De Keersmaeker, L., Vandekerkhove, K. and Hermy, M. (2009)
Does Prunus serotina act as an aggressive invader in areas with a low propagule pressure?
Biological invasions 11(6): 1451-1462.
Vanhellemont, M., Wauters,L., Baeten, L., Bijlsma, R.J., De Frenne, P., Hermy, M. & Verheyen, K. (2010)
Prunus serotina unleashed: invader dominance after 70 years of forest development.
Biological Invasions 12(5): 1113-1124.
Verheyen, K., Vanhellemont, M., Stock, T. & Hermy, M. (2007)
Predicting patterns of invasion by black cherry (Prunus serotina Ehrh.) in Flanders (Belgium) and its impact on the forest understorey community.
Diversity and Distributions 13(5): 487-497.
Verloove, F. (2006)
Catalogue of the Neophytes in Belgium (1800-2005).
Scripta Botanica Belgica 39, 89 pp.
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