Prunus emarginata

Bitter Cherry

Plant Type: Tree
Sun: Partial Shade, Shade, Sun
Drainage: Medium
Water: Naturalize, Occasional
Height X Width: 40' X 20'
Santa Clara County Local: Yes
What do these mean?



The bitter cherry is a fairly rare find in mountainous portions of western North America. Locally it is native to both the Diablo Range and the Santa Cruz Mountains. Although it may grow to thirty feet or more, it generally is found as a large shrub in an expanding, dense thicket, somewhat like a creek dogwood, Cornus sericea. Young bark is an attractive burgundy with a waxy silver tinge. The bright leaves are lance shaped. In spring the bitter cherry blooms with the typical white flowers of its genus. The bright red cherries are relished by wildlife though quite bitter even when ripe. The bitter cherry seems to appreciate access to a water source, though it is quite drought tolerant. Occasional water, provided at a progressively greater distance from the base of the plant, may be best for this unusual native.


Deer Resistant: Yes
Attractive to Bees: Yes
Attractive to Butterflies: Yes
Good Under Oaks: Yes
Evergreen or Deciduous: Deciduous