Sun exposure:
Full shade, partial shade
South facing, west facing
Position in border:


Acidic / Chalky / Alkaline / Clay / Heavy / Moist / Well Drained / Light / Sandy

Bird cherry (Prunus padus) is a flowering, wild cherry tree native to Northern Europe, and is commonly found growing in hedgerows and wilder parts of the UK. It's a deciduous tree reaching 10-15 metres in height, and its broad spreading canopy of branches makes it almost as wide as it's tall.

Prunus padus is tough, hardy, and easy to grow in most soils except waterlogged ground. Its clusters of pure white, almond-scented blossom makes a superb display in spring, and its small rounded, glossy and black fruits are popular with wildlife, especially birds, despite being bitter-tasting to people. The large, oval green leaves of Prunus padus are deciduous and turn attractive shades of bronze and yellow before falling.

Prunus padus makes a good infill tree within a native hedge and allowed to grow to full size, rather than being trimmed. Although it's sometimes sold as a hedging plant, it's not ideal for regular trimming as Prunus species are susceptible to silver leaf disease, which enters the plant through wounds or pruning cuts. For this reason, any essential pruning should be carried out in summer when cuts heal quickly.

Prunus padus is a large-growing tree that blooms for a relatively short period and is only suited to larger gardens, wild, and woodland areas. However, there are several named varieties that are more compact in habit or with larger flowers that are more suited to ornamental areas. Prunus padus ‘Albertii’ forms an upright head of branches that mature to form an oval crown, and is therefore useful where space is limited, while Prunus padus ‘Watereri’ (sometimes sold as ‘Grandiflora’) has larger flowers than the species.

Advice on buying Prunus padus

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  • Prunus padus may be available as a container grown tree from nurseries and garden centres but you're more likely to find it online
  • Field grown (bare rooted) trees are more widely available to buy, from November to March. Specialist tree nurseries offer a range of sizes from small saplings to large specimen trees
  • Always check trees for signs of damage or disease before planting

Where to buy Prunus padus

Plant calendar


Prunus and wildlife

Prunus is known for attracting bees, beneficial insects, birds, butterflies/moths and other pollinators. It is a caterpillar food plant, has nectar/pollen rich flowers, has seeds for birds and makes a good wildlife hedge.

Is known to attract Bees
Is known to attract Beneficial insects
Beneficial insects
Is known to attract Birds
Is known to attract Butterflies/​Moths
Is known to attract Other pollinators
Other pollinators

Is Prunus poisonous?

Prunus has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:
Is not known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Cats
Is not known to attract Dogs
Is not known to attract Horses
Is not known to attract Livestock
Is not known to attract People