Today’s tree: Wild Cherry, Prunus avium
This 80- to 100-year-old tree lives in the yard of my house and I have been looking for an excuse to figure out what kind of cherry tree it is. I determined it is a Wild Cherry thanks to this British Natural History Museum website that includes a tree identification key. Since the climate of the Pacific NW is close to that of Western Europe, I am finding many of the trees near me are similar to those across the big pond.
This tree’s fruit has a one- to two-week season early summer. Many years the birds decimate them before I can, but they are tasty sweet-tart. Apparently the older a cherry tree gets, the more difficult it becomes to draw its amber sap up to the top branches, so more and more branches fall off with age until only a trunk remains.
The story I have heard about this specific tree is the block on which my house sits once included a cherry orchard planted I assume by the builder of the house in the 1920s. The tree in back of the house is the last remaining from that orchard, so it must be a grand elder.
Perhaps it remains healthy thanks to a compost pile the size of a small house that sits a few yards away. . . what happens when you neglect to borrow a truck and allow 5 years of yard biomass to accumulate. I never thought until this moment about what an asset the compost could be to this tree, because it looks more robust than when I first met it.
On a warm day, to lie underneath this tree and listen is a treat! Wind across these leaves causes them to clap like hundreds of small hands, unlike any music I have ever heard.
This ancient cherry covers spring grass with petal snow and birds love to sing and rest in its branches. May you have many more graceful years in this spot I am fortunate to share a while!