Bird cherry

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Bird cherry
314 Prunus avium.jpg

Bird cherry ( Prunus avium )

Order : Rose-like (rosales)
Family : Rose family (Rosaceae)
Subfamily : Spiraeoideae
Tribe : Stone fruit family (Amygdaleae)
Genre : Prunus
Type : Bird cherry
Scientific name
Prunus avium

The bird cherry ( Prunus avium ) is a plant of the genus Prunus in the family of Rosaceae (Rosaceae). The suffix avium is derived from the Latin word avis for bird and refers to the fruits that birds like to eat. But humans also like to eat the fruits of the bird cherry, especially those of cultivated forms.

The cultivated forms cartilaginous cherry ( Prunus avium subsp. Duracina ) and heart cherry ( Prunus avium subsp. Juliana ) are derived from the wild form of wild bird cherry ( Prunus avium subsp. Avium ) . These cultivated forms are mainly characterized by larger leaves as well as larger and sweeter fruits and are generally referred to as sweet cherries .


Prunus avium

Vegetative characteristics

The bird cherry is a deciduous tree that reaches heights of 15 to 20, rarely up to 30 meters.

The bark of young branches is initially green, glabrous, smooth, leathery, shiny and later reddish gray in color. It contains broad, rust-colored lenticels and horizontal stripes can be seen. The blackish bark slowly peel off horizontally and is called "ring bark".

Young foliage leaf

Their crown is broadly conical. The branches are thick and have plenty of short shoots. There is an end bud on long shoots. The winter buds are ovate, ellipsoidal.

The alternate leaves arranged on the branches are divided into a petiole and a leaf blade. The 2 to 7 centimeters long, hairless petiole has two reddish nectar glands at its upper end. In the bud position, the leaf blade is folded. The simple leaf blade is 3 to 15 centimeters long and 2 to 7 centimeters wide, obovate-elliptical to elliptical-ovate and more or less long at the top. The base of the leaf blade is wedge-shaped to rounded. The leaf margin is irregular and roughly double serrated with glandular tips. The upper side of the leaf is bare and fresh green, on the darker green underside of the leaf the nerves are initially slightly hairy. There are seven to twelve lateral nerves on each side of the main nerve. The autumn color of the leaves is intense red and yellow. The two ruler stipules are about 1 centimeter long with glandular serrated edges.

Generative characteristics

Bark of a Prunus avium

A small, almost sessile, dold-like inflorescence is formed on short shoots , which usually only contains three to four (two to six) flowers. This has small, not leaf-like bud scales at the base. During the flowering period, the inner bud scales are pushed back. The flowers appear together with the leaves from around April to May. The protruding flower stalk is bare and 2 to 6 inches long.

Short shoots with winter buds

The hermaphroditic flower is radial symmetry with a diameter of 2.5 to 3.5 centimeters and five-fold with a double flower envelope . The bare flower cup (hypanthium) is goblet-shaped and about 5 millimeters × 4 millimeters in size. The five entire, long, elliptical, bare and reddish colored sepals are about as long as the flower cup and curved back after blooming. The five free, white petals are entire, obovate and 9 to 15 millimeters long. The approximately 20 to 34 stamens are shorter than the petals. The anthers are yellow. The single-chamber ovary is in the middle, so it is not fused with the flower cup. The bald style is about as long as the stamens.

The flowering period extends from April to May. Older, free-standing bird cherries can bloom up to a million flowers at the same time.

The fruit stalk is nodding. The stone fruits are at a diameter of 6 to 25 millimeters subglobose to ellipsoidal or egg-shaped. The “ pulp ” is sweet, the wild forms slightly bittersweet. The length of the elongated, egg-shaped and smooth stone core ranges from 7 to 9 millimeters for the wild forms and up to 9 to 16 millimeters for the cultivated forms. The endocarp is smooth. The fruits ripen from June to July and then turn black and red.

The number of chromosomes is usually 2n = 16 (there are also 17, 18, 19, 24, 32 and 36).


The bird cherry is an initially fast growing, winter-bare deciduous tree that reaches an age of 80 to 90 years.

Terminal buds of the long shoots

The heart root of the bird cherry is strong and extensive, it forms a VA mycorrhiza . Vegetative reproduction takes place very abundantly through root shoots, which are often meters away from the original plant.

The bark is equipped with a long-lasting periderm , in which the shiny red-brown cork is later detached in ribbon-shaped lobes as a bark . The cork warts are extended to over 1 centimeter wide.

The bud scales correspond to the leaf base; Especially on flower buds, connected by transitions, remnants of spade can be found on the innermost scales.

Petiole with nectar glands

The autumn leaves are bright red. At the upper end of the petiole there are usually two, rarely three, red, extra-floral nectaries , where sugar juice is released. As has been suspected for a long time, it is " police food " for ants . The nectar production in the glands is particularly high in the first few weeks after buds emerge and attracts large quantities of the Formica obscuripes ant , which attack the now small larvae ("caterpillars") of various butterflies and other insect pests.

From an ecological point of view, these are homogeneous "nectar-bearing disc flowers". The flowers smell faintly of honey . The nectar is secreted from the flower cup; therefore it smells stronger than the petals. The nectar is easily accessible for flower visitors, especially bee relatives. Honey bees also collect abundant pollen ; Up to a million pollen grains were found on the body of a bee. The scar is only able to conceive 36 hours after the flower has opened. Self-pollination is partially successful. After blooming, the flower cup is thrown off due to a ring-shaped separating tissue. The bird cherry can flower after 20 to 25 years.

Spread mechanisms of the diaspores , here the solitary stone fruits, are: digestive spread by mammals , spread of the mouth when peeling the pulp by birds and hide spread by squirrels and mice . Grosbeak can crack the stone cores.

The cotyledons turn green above the soil after germination (epigeic germination).


Open flower: the sepals are turned back, the ovary is bare, the style is finely furrowed.

The natural range includes submeridional to temperate Europe , northern Turkey , the Caucasus , Transcaucasia and northern Iran . The northern limit of distribution is in western Europe at about 54 ° north latitude, in the east on a line from Minsk via Kursk and Voronezh to Rostov and in southern Central Asia. In Scandinavia, the northern border is unclear due to the difficulty of distinguishing wild and cultivated forms. The bird cherry was naturalized in North Africa, southern Turkestan , the Indian Ocean and eastern North America.


The wild bird cherry grows in herbaceous deciduous and mixed coniferous forest communities such as oak-hornbeam, beech, maple-linden steep slope or alder-elm forests. It is a type of character of the Carpinion Association , in which its focus is also located. In other forest communities it usually only occurs mixed. However, due to its strong self-regeneration, the species can predominantly form real bird cherry forests, which take a very long time to transform into terminal oak-beech forests.

A bumblebee on cherry blossoms

As a warmth-loving penumbra, the bird cherry can also be found on the edges of the forest, in hedges, on stone ridges, in elderberry, snowball dogwood and sloe bushes, as well as in higher altitudes in the pre-forest communities of beech forests. The preferred soils are fresh (seeping moisture), medium to deep, nutrient-rich to base-rich loam or gauze soils. In the Alps, the bird cherry reaches altitudes up to 1700 meters, in the Caucasus up to 2000 meters. The location requirements of the two forms of culture are similar. The infectious disease of gnomonia leaf tan has been described in bird cherries.


The bird cherry is within the genus Prunus , together with the sour cherry ( Prunus cerasus ) and the steppe cherry ( Prunus fruticosa ) in the section Cerasus the subgenus Cerasus provided.

There are three subspecies of Prunus avium :

  • The wild bird cherry or forest cherry ( Prunus avium L. subsp. Avium ) is the wild family. Their leaves are small. The fruits are black, small and less than an inch in diameter. The pulp tastes bittersweet and is not very juicy.
  • The cartilage cherry ( Prunus avium subsp. Duracina (L.) Schübler et G. Martens ), regionally also Krachkirsche, Knubber or Knupper, has very large leaves. The fruits are usually black-red, sometimes white, large and more than one centimeter in diameter. The pulp is yellow or red, gristly and firm.
  • The heart cherry or soft cherry ( Prunus avium subsp. Juliana (L.) Schübler et G. Martens ) has larger leaves than the wild family. The fruits are usually black-red, yellow or white and very large, their diameter is more than one centimeter. The flesh is red or blackish red, soft and very juicy.

Economic use

Ripe sweet cherries on a short shoot

The cultivation of sweet cherries is the most important tree fruit cultivation in Germany after that of apples (2009: 5,440 ha). The yields are lower than for the other tree fruit species (average 2005–2009: 5.8 t / ha), so that the harvest quantities are in fourth place after pears and plums / plums (average 2005–2009: 31,700 t). The yield per tree fluctuated in the period 1997–2008 between 11.3 kg (1997) and 26.7 kg (2000), in 2007 2.15 million sweet cherry trees were used in fruit growing . In the long term, the area used will decrease (1992: 5,875 ha). Stocking densities are increasing somewhat more (1972: 194 1 / ha; 2007: 392 1 / ha), but are well below the even more rapidly increasing average of all fruit trees (2007: 1,626 1 / ha). Sweet cherries are therefore the largest trees in fruit growing. This is especially true for southern Germany. The highest stocking density with 998 trees per hectare was used in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2007, the lowest with 279 trees per hectare in Baden-Württemberg. In Baden-Württemberg, where 40 percent of the acreage is located with 2,125 hectares, the focus of sweet cherry cultivation is also in Germany. A long-term increase in area and share has been recorded here (1972: 1,098 ha, 25%, only old states), although the total area of ​​cherry cultivation is tending to decline. Cultivation in the other countries is decreasing or stagnating at a low level.

Cut surface of a sour cherry

The cherry wood , which is reddish in its core , is mainly used as veneer wood for interior fittings and especially as furniture wood. Cherry wood does not play an economic role as firewood.

In the beekeeping sweet cherry because of the high sugar content of her is nectar (21-58%) and their high sugar value (up to 1.5 mg to sugar per day per flower) an estimated costume .

The wild form of the bird cherry ( Prunus avium ) is often used as a base for the refinement of the Japanese flowering cherry . For the refinement of the cultivated form of the sweet and sour cherry , wild forms of the bird cherry were also used in the 19th century. Specially selected forms of bird cherry have been used since the 20th century, for example by the East Malling Research Station .

The cherry is an old cultivated fruit in the Austrian Burgenland , where it was originally grown in the vineyards between the rows of vines. The variety Horitschoner Herzkirsche likely due to fruit shape, color and ripening time of from Silesia originating Germer Dorfer be similar variety. Selling the cherries to Vienna brought the winemakers an additional income. The Horitschon heart cherry brandy , also made from the heart cherry , has also been included in the register of traditional foods due to the many years of processing in this region .

The situation is similar in the area between the southeastern slopes of the Leithagebirge and the northwestern shore of Lake Neusiedl , where the Leithaberger Edelkirsche was added to the register and the region was registered as a pleasure region Austria .


There are numerous varieties of cherry (selection):

A handful of sweet cherries of the ' Große Germersdorfer ' variety

Cartilage cherries:

  • ' Adlerkirsche von Bärtschi ', a tried and tested variety (synonyms: 'Ochsenherzkirsche', 'Besigheimer Kirsche')
  • 'Badacsoner'
  • ' Badeborn Black Cartilage Cherry '
  • ' Büttners Rote Knorpelkirsche ', an undemanding and high-yielding variety (synonyms: 'Altenburger Melonenkirsche', 'Querfurt Königskirsche')
  • 'Charmes', an early variety (synonyms: 'Äpfeleskirsche', 'Schönheit vdPfalz')
  • ' Dönissen's yellow cartilage cherry ', a vigorous and frost-hardy variety (synonyms: 'amber cherry ', 'sulfur cherry', 'wax cherry')
  • 'Farnstädter Schwarze', a variety with very aromatic fruits
  • 'Geisenheimer Schwarze', a large-fruited and abundant variety
  • 'Germersdorfer' (synonym: 'marble cherry')
  • ' Great Princess ', is considered one of the best cartilage cherries (synonyms: 'Napoleon cherry', 'Imperial cherry')
  • ' Great black cartilage cherry ', one of the oldest and most widespread varieties
  • ' Hedelfinger ', a relatively late fruiting and richly bearing variety (synonyms: 'Wahlerkirsche', 'Spiegelkirsche')
  • 'Offenburger Schüttler', a variety mainly grown in the Black Forest
  • 'Ritterkirsche', a burnt and sap cherry
  • ' Schneider's late cartilage cherry ', a large-fruited and widespread variety
  • 'Star', a large-fruited variety
  • 'Starking Hardy Giant', a large-fruited variety
  • 'Unterländer', an early variety
  • 'Van', a young fruit-bearing variety

Heart cherries:

  • 'Alma', a robust variety
  • ' Annabella ', a vigorous variety
  • 'Bleyhl's Brown'
  • ' Burlat ', an early variety
  • 'Coburger Mai' (Synonym: 'Koburger Maiherzkirsche')
  • ' Dolleseppler ', an undemanding variety
  • ' Franzens Wilde ', old regional variety from Saxony
  • 'Early Rote Meckenheier', a rich variety
  • ' Earliest of the Mark ', the earliest variety, according to which the cherry weeks are determined
  • ' Kassins Früh ', a vigorous early variety
  • ' Kesterter Schwarze ', an old early variety from the Middle Rhine
  • ' Knauffs Schwarze ', an early variety
  • 'Lucien', a variety with very juicy fruits (synonym: 'water cherry')
  • 'Mödinger', an old preserve and juice variety
  • 'Prima Vera', a very early variety
  • ' Schmahlfelds Schwarze ', a variety that is widely grown in the Havel region
  • 'Black Queen' (Synonym: 'Black Short Stalkers')
  • 'Spitz Braune', a variety planted in vineyards
  • ' Teickner's Black Heart Cherry ', a Central German variety
  • ' Valeska ', a variety found in northern growing areas
  • ' Werdersche Braune ', a Central German variety

For other varieties, see the list of cherry varieties .

Tree of the year

On 22 October 2009, the bird cherry in was Germany for Tree of the Year chosen of 2010.

regional customs

The bird cherry is one of the fruit trees that can be used as a Barbara branch . On branches that are placed in the vase in a warm room on December 4th ( St. Barbara's Day), blossoms appear before Christmas.

See also

supporting documents

Individual evidence

  1. Blossoms of the bird cherry
  2. a b c d e f g h i Ruprecht Düll , Herfried Kutzelnigg : Pocket dictionary of plants in Germany and neighboring countries. The most common Central European species in portrait. 7th, corrected and enlarged edition. Quelle & Meyer, Wiebelsheim 2011, ISBN 978-3-494-01424-1 .
  3. ^ Manfred A. Fischer , Karl Oswald, Wolfgang Adler: Excursion flora for Austria, Liechtenstein and South Tyrol. 3rd, improved edition. State of Upper Austria, Biology Center of the Upper Austrian State Museums, Linz 2008, ISBN 978-3-85474-187-9 .
  4. 1977-2010
  5. Federal Statistical Office: Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries: Growth and Harvest (2009), Fruit: August 2009  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (Technical series 3 series 3.2.1 07/2009)@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  6. Federal Statistical Office: Statistics 41231: Tree Fruit Cultivation Survey, Table 41231-0003: Area under cultivation, trees (tree fruit growing): federal states, years, types of fruit
  7. Helmut Horn, Cord Lüllmann: Das große Honigbuch, Kosmos, Stuttgart 3rd edition 2006, p. 31. ISBN 3-440-10838-4
  8. Archived copy ( memento of the original from January 12, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. Hermann Jäger , Julien Alexandre Hardy : The practical fruit gardener, Volume 1; P. 34 Online
  10. Eduard Lucas , Fritz Winter , Robert Silbereisen : Lucas' Instructions for Fruit Cultivation, 1992, p. 96
  11. Horitschoner Herzkirschenbrand . Entry No. 35 in the register of traditional foods of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Regions and Tourism . Retrieved February 17, 2013
  12. Leithaberger Edelkirsche . Entry No. 78 in the register of traditional foods of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Regions and Tourism .
    Leithaberger Edelkirsche at the Genuss Region Österreich association .
  13. ^ Website Die Vogel-Kirsche 2010 on


  • Li Chaoluan, Jiang Shunyuan, Bruce Bartholomew: Cerasus. : Prunus avium , p. 409 - online with the same text as the printed work , In: Wu Zhengyi, Peter H. Raven, Deyuan Hong (eds.): Flora of China. Volume 9: Pittosporaceae through Connaraceae , Science Press and Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing and St. Louis, 2003. ISBN 1-930723-14-8 (section description)
  • Hildemar Scholz, Ilse Scholz: Prunoideae. In: Hildemar Scholz (Hrsg.): Illustrated flora of Central Europe. Founded by Gustav Hegi. 2nd, completely revised and enlarged edition. Volume IV Part 2B: Spermatophyta: Angiospermae: Dicotyledones 2 (3) (Rosaceae, Part 2) , Blackwell, Berlin / Vienna a. a. 1995, ISBN 3-8263-2533-8 .

Web links

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