Prunus serrula
Common Name: ornamental cherry 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Rosaceae
Native Range: Western China
Zone: 5 to 6
Height: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy


Best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Good soil drainage is essential. Prune as needed after flowering.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Prunus serrula, commonly called birchbark cherry, birchbark tree, paperbark cherry, cellophane bark cherry or redbark cherry, is, as the aforementioned common names suggest, most noted for its outstanding glossy reddish-brown bark. Old bark peels somewhat like a birch to reveal a polished sheen that is typically described as being reddish brown, copper brown or mahogany brown. Native to Western China and Tibet, this is a rounded deciduous tree that typically grows to 20-30’ tall. Narrow, lance-shaped, willow-like, dark green leaves (to 4” long) are serrated (serrula meaning with saw-like teeth). No fall color. Small white flowers (3/4” across) bloom singly or in 2 to 4-flowered umbels in March-April as the foliage emerges. Flowers are followed by cherry-like red fruit (1/2” diameter drupes).

Genus name from Latin means plum or cherry tree.

Specific epithet means with saw-like teeth.


Susceptible to a large number of potential insect and disease pests. Potential diseases include cankers, leaf spot, die back, leaf curl, powdery mildew, root rot and fireblight. Potential insects include aphids, scale, borers, leafhoppers, caterpillars, tent caterpillars and Japanese beetles. Spider mites may also be troublesome.


Tree bark is the main ornamental feature. Site this tree in a location where the bark can be seen and appreciated. Bark can be particularly noticeable in winter.