Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Escarpment black cherry

with 11 comments

Escarpment Black cherry Tree Turning Yellow 9511

Before I stopped on November 26th to portray the bright oaks you saw last time, I’d spent a couple of hours at Doeskin Ranch, a nature preserve in Burnet County about an hour from my home in northwest Austin. At the preserve I photographed lots of things, including some colorful escarpment black cherry trees, Prunus serotina var. eximia, a species making its debut here today. The large trunk at the right is a live oak, and the red leaves beyond the dead tree to the left belong to another kind of oak, probably the same as what you saw last time.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 9, 2014 at 5:41 AM

Posted in nature photography

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11 Responses

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  1. Interesting name Escarpment Black Cherry. Murphy’s run is attached to a plain ol’ Black Cherry.

    Steve Gingold

    December 9, 2014 at 6:40 AM

  2. We have several cherry trees in the woods behind our house. I don’t know the species.

    Jim in IA

    December 9, 2014 at 7:24 AM

    • Here’s what I found from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: “Five geographical varieties are currently distinguished: P. serotina var. serotina (Eastern black cherry) in eastern North America as far west as east Texas, P. serotina var. eximia (Escarpment black cherry) in central Texas, and varieties virens (Southwestern black cherry) and rufula (Chisos black cherry) in mountains of southwestern North America. Populations inhabiting the interior mountains of Mexico and Guatemala are assigned to the subspecies P. serotina ssp. capuli (Capulin black cherry) but are sometimes classed as variety salicifolia.” From that it sounds like the cherry trees near you, assuming they’re native, are probably P. serotina var. serotina.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 9, 2014 at 1:39 PM

  3. I was confused by your photo at first. I’ve seen many wild cherries in the hills outside Kerrville, but the trees didn’t look at all like this.

    A little exploration may have solved my mystery: “A mature black cherry can easily be identified in a forest by its very broken, dark grey to black bark, which has the appearance of very thick, burnt cornflakes. However, for about the first decade or so of its life, the bark is thin, smooth, and striped, resembling that of a birch.” The bark is exactly what confused me. I expected it to be rough and dark. It seems you might have captured the image of a teenager.

    Cherry is a beautiful wood for furniture-making. We took two fallen trees over to a mill in Mountain home and had them planked. They dried outside the cabin for two years, and now a portion of that wood is a table in my home. My other treasure is a cutting board a friend made by laminating strips of various woods from the property: cherry, oak, pecan, walnut, mesquite. It’s a gorgeous thing. Needless to say, it decorates the kitchen, rather than being used.


    December 9, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    • We always call it the potato-chip tree, because of the bark. I love it that you had a fallen tree made into a table, and other pieces made into a cutting board. How meaningful and beautiful the pieces must be!


      December 9, 2014 at 9:56 AM

      • “Potato-chip tree” is a new one on me. I guess it’s good that the bark’s not edible, because eating it would likely kill the tree.

        Steve Schwartzman

        December 9, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    • I’ll follow up those observations about black cherry bark in tomorrow’s post with a good view of one of the two states.

      I’d heard that cherry wood is excellent for furniture, but you’re fortunate to have had the experience to give a testimonial.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 9, 2014 at 1:33 PM

  4. This is a handsome black cherry. I don’t often see large ones here. They seem to be short-lived. Your photo is making me wonder whether something is killing them. They are larval host food for a couple of nice butterflies such as Red-Spotted Purple, but the preserve stewards here don’t necessarily value them and will cut them down. sigh. Maybe THEY are the something that is killing the trees!


    December 9, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    • My first thought when I got to your next-to-last sentence was that maybe they need to be cut down instead. Your follow-up was less hostile than mine, but I have a history of being conditioned by reckless mowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 9, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      • Me too. We notice here that the trails through the preserves get wider and wider through the season, and some choice forbs get whacked. Then we say some choice words to the powers-that-be…


        December 10, 2014 at 7:44 AM

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