Belfast Botanic Gardens Tree Archive

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This is one of a series of short articles about trees in the Belfast Botanic Gardens compiled by the Friends group. The tree tag number relates to the small aluminium discs, usually fixed on the tree trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.
Prunus padus
Bird cherry

Tag 819
54 deg 34.906N
5 deg 55.804W

Prunus padus is one of the 4 Prunus species native to the British Isles (the others are Prunus spinosa, the blackthorn, Prunus avium, bird cherry and Prunus domestica, the wild plum, the origin of cultivated plums, damsons and greengages). There are over 400 Prunus species world-wide and many hundreds of cultivars, including all the flowering Japanese cherries as well as plums, cherries, almonds, peaches etc.

In common with most of the genus, Prunus padus has leaves with a toothed margin and has two small glands near the base of the leaf (see below). There are also glands around the edge of the small sepals.

As a native tree the bird cherry is more common in Scotland than in England and favours the limestone in Ireland. It can form a substantial tree, though not as tall as the wild cherry (Prunus avium). As with most cherries the flowering season is brief, but the bird cherry also has good autumn colour.The bird cherry in Belfast Botanic Gardens is close to the boundary fence between the Gardens and Botanic Primary School

Note 2019: unfortunately this tree was removed 2018.

Prunus padus in Belfast Botanic Gardens

Prunus padus flower racime

Bird cherry in Belfast Botanic Gardens in flower Bird cherry, flowering branch in April

Prunus padus flowers

Prunus padus leaf glands

Flower racemes of bird cherry Detail of leaf base showing glands typical of the genus
Prunus padus flower detail Prunus padus sepal gands
Detail of Prunus padus flower Glands edging sepal of Prunus padus (arrowed)

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2012. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.

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