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Cherries and Plums (Prunus)


  • Fruits are fleshy with a single, large seed.
  • Leaves are simple, alternate and deciduous with a pointed tip and serrated edges. Leaves are commonly borne on spur shoots.
  • Each leaf typically has a small pair of glands (raised bumps) on base of leave or on petiole.
  • Leaves commonly have stipules at the base of each leaf.


Cherries and plums belong to a genus that includes apricots, peaches, nectarines, and almonds.

Collectively, they are called "stone fruits" because they have fleshy fruits with a single, large seed inside.  Two other distinctive feature are small glands that occur on the base of the leaf or on the petiole (leaf stalk), and stipules - small, leafy "ears" that occur where the petiole joins the twig. 

North America contains almost 30 native species of this genus, but only three are native to Oregon - two cherries and one plum. 

  • bitter cherry: leaves elliptical; flowers in round clusters; bright red fruit; tiny gland on base of leaf.
  • common chokecherry: leaves oblong to obovate; flowers in elongated clusters; prominent glands on petiole.
  • Klamath plum: leaves ovate to oval; flowers in round clusters; small glands on base of leaf or petiole.

For more information on the cherries and plums native to the Pacific Northwest, go to the species page or see "Trees to Know in Oregon".

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