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Is It Choke Cherry or Black Cherry?


Choke cherry (Prunus virginiana) plants may serve as hosts for the organism that causes X Disease on peaches and cultivated sweet cherries. Removal of choke cherry plants (and escaped sweet cherry trees) from hedgerows and woodlots adjacent to stone fruit orchards can help reduce the spread of X disease. Choke cherry may be confused with other cherries, particularly black cherry (Prunus serotina) which is a valuable timber species and does not serve as a host for this disease. The following photos were taken in Dutchess County on May 19, 2005 and may help growers distinguish between these 2 species.

Choke cherry in bloom. This species can be a shrub to small tree up to 20'.


Black cherry leaves and branches. May reach 80+' in height.


Upper surface of choke cherry leaves showing wide, egg-shaped leaves.


Upper surface of black cherry leaves showing long, narrow leaves.


Lower surface of choke cherry leaves showing midrib is hairless.


Lower surface of black cherry leaves showing midrib base prominently fringed with white or brown hair.

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