Prunus serotina, commonly called black cherry, wild black cherry, rum cherry, or mountain black cherry, is a deciduous tree or shrub of the genus Prunus. Despite being called black cherry, it is not very closely related to the commonly cultivated cherries such as sweet cherry, sour cherry.
Prunus serotina is a medium-sized, fast-growing forest tree growing to a height of 50–80 ft (15–24 m). Leaves are 2–5 in (5–13 cm) long, ovate-lanceolate in shape, with finely toothed margins. Fall leaf color is yellow to red. Flowers are small, white and 5-petalled, in racemes 4–6 in (10–15 cm) long which contain several dozen flowers. The flowers give rise to reddish-black "berries" (drupes) fed on by birds, 5–10 mm (1⁄4–3⁄8 in) in diameter.
For about its first decade the bark of a black cherry tree is thin, smooth, and banded, resembling a birch. A mature tree has very broken, dark grey to black bark. The leaves are long and shiny, resembling a sourwood’s. An almond-like odor is released when a young twig is scratched and held close to the nose, revealing minute amounts of cyanide compounds produced and stored by the plant as a defense mechanism against herbivores.