Bird cherry immigrated 12000 years ago and can today be found all over Sweden except for Öland, Gotland and the far north.The leaves are long and narrow, with small, sharp teeth at the margin and two glands at the leaf end. It blossoms with white, strongly scenting flowers. The flowers develop into small, black cherries that ripen in July. The trunk is gray to black, the bark changes with age, from smooth to fissured. Berries and bark contains amygdaline, giving an astringent and bitter taste.Bird cherry grows as shrubs or small trees on sun lit positions and fertile soil. It can get 15 meters tall and 100 years old.
The wood is light yellow with yellowish brown heartwood. It is rather soft, pliable and easy to work. Since its surface is smooth it is often used for tool handles and rakes. Today it is also used for bent wood boxes. The scent from the bark scares rodents which makes it a good choice for fencing.
Did you know that:
- The bark is used for dyeing and gives a reddish brown color, considered the best dye for fishing nets.
- The berries can be used for jam.
- Twigs kept rodents out of fields and barns. They also protected from lightning stroke, evil spirits and thieves.
- Stripes from the bark or decoctions of leaves were used in folk medicine against lice, snake bite, fever and lung complaints.