Bark: Young, wild black cherry trees will have smooth, purple-brown bark. An adult wild cherry tree will have brown to black bark, which is cracked with thick lines running through it. The inner bark is a dark red color.
Leaves: The leaves of a black cherry are 2-5 inches long and lacking ridges. The lines running through the leaves should be mostly straight and not overly curly, in which case it could be a buckthorn tree. The leaves will be dark green, except in fall when they are orange or yellow, and the edges of the leaves will be mostly smooth.
Fruit: The fruit of cherry trees grow in a dense cluster and each cherry contains only one seed. They start out as a light orange color and darken into a black-red as they ripen. The fruit ripens in August and is pea-sized with a single pit inside. In spring, they are identifiable by the small, whitish-pink flowers that grow in bunches on the tree. The flowers produce an unpleasant smell, but are lovely to look at.
We rate cherry as a second class tree based on its current demand in markets. Although, the prices for cherry is on the rise as it is growing in popularity once again. Cherry a beautiful wood that is commonly used to make furniture and wood flooring. Black cherry lumber has been in high demand for the past century.
Benefit to Forest:
Black cherry trees native to Indiana produce a red-black fruit that is a natural food source for wildlife. Often, cherry trees will be filled with birds. Small mammals such as raccoons, white-footed mice, and foxes feed on the fruit that falls to the ground. White-tailed deer, moose and cottontails will browse the tree, eating the bark.
Pin cherries are a similar species that you may also find in your woods. The pin cherry leaves have a more rounded end and more ridges down the leaf. It is much more supple and softer than a black cherry leaf. The ripened fruit stays red and the bark is a smooth, coppery color. Furthermore, the young bark is very shiny with small, horizontal strips of lenticels. Mature bark looses its sheen but stays smoother without the typical deep bark grooves.