Prunus mahaleb L.

Mahaleb cherry

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Mahaleb cherry is distinguished from other Prunus species by its small, rounded leaves (only 2.5-5 cm or 1-2 inches long), with teeth that have tiny glands at their tips. Also, the inflorescences are racemes with few flowers (up to 10). This species is introduced from the Mediterranean region, and the stock is used for grafting cultivated cherries. The species name, "mahaleb," derives from the Arabic word for "milk," perhaps referring to the milk-white color of the flowers.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), forest edges, forests, meadows and fields

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
Growth form
  • the plant is a shrub (a woody plant with several stems growing from the base)
  • the plant is a tree
Leaf type
the leaf blade is simple (lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaves per node
there is one leaf per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
Leaf duration
the leaves drop off in winter (or they wither but persist on the plant)
armature on plant
the plant does not have spines, prickles, or thorns
Leaf blade length
30–60 mm
Leaf stalk
the leaves have leaf stalks
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is fleshy
Bark texture
the bark of an adult plant is ridged or plated
Twig winter color
  • brown
  • gray
  • orange
  • purple
  • red
Bud scale number
there are three or more scales on the winter bud, and they overlap like shingles, with one edge covered and the other edge exposed
Show All Characteristics
  • Buds or leaf scars
    Bud scale number
    there are three or more scales on the winter bud, and they overlap like shingles, with one edge covered and the other edge exposed
    Bud scar shape (Fraxinus)
    NA
    Collateral buds
    there are no collateral buds on the sides of the branches
    Superposed buds
    there are no superposed buds on the branch
  • Flowers
    Carpels fused
    the carpel is solitary or (if 2 or more) the carpels are not fused to one another
    Enlarged sterile flowers
    there are no enlarged sterile flowers on the plant
    Flower petal color
    white
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Hairs on ovary (Amelanchier)
    NA
    Hypanthium present
    the flower has a hypanthium
    Inflorescence type
    the inflorescence is a raceme (a long unbranched stem with stalked flowers growing along it)
    Number of pistils
    1
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal fusion
    the perianth parts are separate
    Sepal cilia (Ilex)
    NA
    Stamen number
    13 or more
  • Fruits or seeds
    Berry color
    • black
    • white
    Fruit tissue origin
    the hypanthium of the flower becomes part of the fruit
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is fleshy
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a drupe (fleshy, with a firm inner ovary wall that encloses a single seed)
    Nut with spines (Fagaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    there are no wings on the fruit
  • Glands or sap
    Sap color
    the sap is clear and watery
    Stalked glands on fruit (Rosa)
    NA
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    • the plant is a shrub (a woody plant with several stems growing from the base)
    • the plant is a tree
  • Leaves
    Hairs on upper side of leaf blade
    the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Leaf blade base shape
    • The base of the leaf blade is cordate (heart-shaped, with rounded lobes)
    • the base of the leaf blade is rounded
    Leaf blade edges
    the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
    Leaf blade edges (Acer)
    NA
    Leaf blade flatness
    the leaf is flat (planar) at the edges
    Leaf blade hairs
    the hairs on the leaf blade are different from the choices given
    Leaf blade length
    30–60 mm
    Leaf blade scales
    there are no scales on the leaf blades
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is orbicular (roughly circular, as wide as long)
    • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Leaf blade texture
    the leaf blade is herbaceous (has a leafy texture)
    Leaf blade translucent dots
    there are no translucent dots on the leaf blade
    Leaf duration
    the leaves drop off in winter (or they wither but persist on the plant)
    Leaf lobe tips (Quercus)
    NA
    Leaf midrib glands
    the midrib of the leaf blade lacks glands on the upper surface
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf teeth
    the leaf blade margin is serrulate (with forward-pointing) or denticulate (with outward-pointing) with tiny teeth
    Leaf teeth hairs (Carya)
    NA
    Leaf type
    the leaf blade is simple (lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaves per node
    there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Massachusetts
    Specific habitat
    • edges of forests
    • forests
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant does not have much of an odor, or it has an unpleasant or repellant odor
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Aerial roots
    the plant has no aerial roots
    Bark texture
    the bark of an adult plant is ridged or plated
    Branch brittleness (willows only)
    NA
    Branch cross-section
    the branch is circular in cross-section, or it has five or more sides, so that there are no sharp angles
    First-year cane (Rubus)
    NA
    Pith shape
    the outline of the pith in a twig is roughly round
    Twig papillae (Vaccinium species only)
    NA
    Twig winter color
    • brown
    • gray
    • orange
    • purple
    • red
    Wings on branch
    the branch does not have wings on it
    armature on plant
    the plant does not have spines, prickles, or thorns

Wetland Status

Not classified

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
absent
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

No

Sometimes Confused With

Prunus virginiana

Family

Rosaceae

Genus

Prunus

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

9.  Prunus mahaleb L. E

Mahaleb cherry. CT, MA. Fields, roadsides, abandoned homesteads, forest borders.