Prunus pumila - L.
Common Name Dwarf American Cherry, Sandcherry, Western sandcherry, Eastern sandcherry, Great Lakes sandcherry
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.
Habitats Dunes and sand, or on calcareous rocky shores[43].
Range Eastern N. America - New Brunswick to Manitoba, Maine, New Jersey, Indiana and Wisconsin.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun

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Prunus pumila Dwarf American Cherry, Sandcherry, Western sandcherry, Eastern sandcherry, Great Lakes sandcherry
Prunus pumila Dwarf American Cherry, Sandcherry, Western sandcherry, Eastern sandcherry, Great Lakes sandcherry
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of shrub
Prunus pumila is a deciduous Shrub growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 2. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; South Wall. By. West Wall. By.
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Fruit;  Seed.
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw or cooked[2, 159, 161]. A reasonable size, up to 10mm in diameter with one large seed[200], this is the largest of the N. American cherries[213]. A rich and pleasantly acid taste when fully ripe though they are sometimes slightly bitter[2, 11, 101, 183]. Eaten out of hand, used in preserves or dried for later use[183]. Seed - raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter - see the notes above on toxicity.
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being[238].


Other Uses
Dye;  Rootstock.

A green dye can be obtained from the leaves[168]. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit[168]. Used as a rootstock for the sour cherry[160].
Cultivation details
Requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil[1, 11]. Thrives in a loamy soil, doing well on limestone[11]. Prefers some chalk in the soil but apt to become chlorotic if too much is present[1]. Requires a sunny position[11]. Established plants are very drought resistant[160]. This species is hardy to about -35°c when the plants are fully dormant[160], though the young growth in spring is fairly tender[K]. Plants are susceptible to mildew in low areas[160]. Plants thrive in areas with a short growing season[160]. The fruits are highly resistant to all fruit worms[160]. Plants can produce fruit in 3 years from seed[160]. A single plant, growing at Hilliers Arboretum in 1999, produced a good crop of fruit with viable seed, so the species is almost certainly self-fertile[K]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[238]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200].
Seed - requires 2 - 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[200]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible[200]. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate[113]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame[11, 200]. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame[200]. Layering in spring.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Prunus africanaPygeum05
Prunus alabamensisAlabama Cherry21
Prunus alleghaniensisAllegheny Plum, Davis' plum31
Prunus americanaAmerican Plum, American Wild Plum, Wild Plum32
Prunus americana lanata 31
Prunus andersoniiDesert Peach22
Prunus angustifoliaChickasaw Plum, Watson's plum, Hally Jolivette Cherry31
Prunus angustifolia watsoniiSand Plum41
Prunus apetalaClove Cherry21
Prunus arabica 21
Prunus armeniacaApricot33
Prunus aviumWild Cherry, Sweet cherry42
Prunus besserianaDwarf Almond21
Prunus besseyiWestern Sand Cherry41
Prunus bifrons 21
Prunus bokharensisBokhara Plum21
Prunus brigantinaBriançon Apricot41
Prunus buergeriana 21
Prunus campanulataTaiwan Cherry21
Prunus canescensGreyleaf Cherry31
Prunus capsica 21
Prunus carolinianaAmerican Cherry Laurel, Carolina laurelcherry, Laurel Cherry,21
Prunus cerasiferaCherry Plum, Myrobalan Plum, Newport Cherry Plum, Pissard Plum41
Prunus cerasifera divaricata 41
Prunus cerasoidesWild Himalayan Cherry22
Prunus cerasusSour Cherry12
Prunus cerasus austeraMorello Cherry31
Prunus cerasus capronianaKentish Red Cherry31
Prunus cerasus frutescensBush Sour Cherry31
Prunus cerasus marascaMaraschino Cherry31


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Readers comment
Matt Gordon   Fri Mar 9 2007
Re: Comment that plant cannot stand maritime exposure appears to conflict with native habitat. Best Matt Gordon
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Subject : Prunus pumila  

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