Pin Cherry is a small tree, growing up to 12 metres high and 25 centimetres in diameter (trunk). Pin Cherry trees grow at a medium rate but only live about 30 to 40 years. The leaves of Pin Cherries are long and narrow and have very fine teeth on the edge. If you’re lucky enough to see a Pin Cherry in the fall, you’ll be able to identify it by its leaves, which turn a dull purple-red each fall. The bark of a Pin Cherry is also quite recognizable, especially due to the many large lenticels present. Lenticels are raised pores on the stem or bark of woody plants that allow for gas exchange between the atmosphere and the internal tissues of the tree. Apart from the large lenticels, Pin Cherry bark is shiny and dark reddish-brown in colour. Of course, Pin Cherries can be recognized by the many bright red fruits which they produce in the summer. While edible, these fruits are quite sour when eaten raw, but are great ingredients for jams and preserves. The clusters of Pin Cherry fruits are often said to resemble pinheads in a pincushion (another way to recognize this species). In the Spring, Pin Cherry trees produce beautiful small, white blossoms that are around 5 millimetres long.
Pin Cherry trees are found in all of Ontario and in most forested parts of Canada (except for the far north), from central British Columbia east across the country. They are very tolerable of varying soil moistures and soil type, however, they must be in full sun. If you plan on planting a Pin Cherry, ensure that there are no trees close by that may shade it. Pin Cherries often grow and colonize recently disturbed tree stands. As well, they can spread through suckers, helping to stabilize eroding soils and riverbanks.
Pin Cherry fruit is very popular with birds. So popular, in fact that this tree is commonly known as the Bird Cherry!