Burnt Cornflakes Bark

Prunus serotina (Black cherry)

Prunus serotina (Black cherry)

As a child, I clearly remember being shown the forest tree bark which looks like “burnt cornflakes.” As you can see from this photo, it really does. When I point this species out to people during my walks, they immediately react to the description “burnt cornflakes” and then are able to point out each and every black cherry tree that we encounter from then on.

Black cherry will grow just about anywhere that birds have deposited the seeds. The tree can live to be 150 years old and can grow to a height of 22 meters and a diameter of 60 cms.

The bark is smooth on young trees and has obvious horizontal greyish lenticels as you can see from these photos of a tree in my backyard.


Lenticles are corky, porous spots which are particularly noticeable on the bark of cherry and birch trees.


The reddish-brown buds are 3 – 4 mm. long. If you peel a bit of bark from a twig there is a strong smell of marzipan.


Black cherry wood is easy to work with and polishes beautifully. It is very popular for use in furniture making and is also used in making musical instruments, panelling, cabinets, interior trim, scientific instruments, toys and tool handles. A type of cough medicine is made from the bark.

Black cherry was one of the first tree species from the New World to be introduced into English gardens and was seen there as early as 1629.

Miles Hearn

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