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Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

Family: Rose (Ros­ace­ae)

Common Names: American Cherry, Black Cherry, Cherry, Rum cherry.

Cherry trees can live to the extreme ages of 150 to 200 years. Average tree height is 60 to 80 feet. Black cherry is the largest of the native cherries and the only one of commercial value. Most wood marketed as cherry is Black cherry. Large commercial grade trees are found in a limited range in northern Apalacia. In Nebraska the extremes of weather result in small, dense, often bizarrely twisted trees with exceptional grain. Its name has nothing to do with the color of its wood, but reflects the deep red, almost black, color of its fruit.

The heartwood of cherry varies from rich red to reddish brown and will darken with age and on exposure to light — often in a matter of days. The sapwood is creamy white although often stained to resemble the heartwood color. The wood has a fine uniform, straight grain, satiny, smooth texture, and may naturally contain brown pith flecks and small gum pockets. Cherry is of medium density with good bending properties, it has low stiffness, medium strength and moderate shock resistance. It dries fairly quickly with moderately high shrinkage, but is dimensionally stable after kiln-drying.

Cherry is known as being one of the best woods for workability. Cherry is easy to machine, nails and glues well. When sanded and stained, it produces an excellent smooth finish. However it can sometimes give blotchy results. A sanding sealer prior to staining, or using a gel-based stain is recommended.

It is with Walnut and Mahogany one of the three primary woods used to make fine furniture and cabinetry. Also used in the manufacture of mouldings and millwork, paneling, strip flooring, doors, boat interiors, musical instruments, turnings and carvings, veneer and plywood.