Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Susquehanna Cherry - Prunus susquehanae   Willdenow
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Rosaceae
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AuthorWilldenow
DistributionVery old historical records from Durham and Henderson counties. Thus, apparently absent from the state now.

This is a Northern species, occurring from Canada south mainly to PA, and sparingly to VA, NC, and southern TN. As it has been lumped with, or confused with, Prunus pumila, the full species range is perhaps not yet settled.
AbundanceOf historical presence in NC. Known apparently from just two records, so always extremely rare. As this is a clonal, low shrub, if it still occurred in the state, it likely would not be overlooked. The NCNHP considers this to be a Significantly Rare species.
HabitatThis is a cherry of rocky or sandy woods, thickets, and clearings. The Durham County site was a margin of pine woods.
See also Habitat Account for General Rosaceous Thickets
PhenologyBlooms in April and May, and fruits in July and August.
IdentificationThis is a low-growing, clonal deciduous shrub, with strongly ascending stems, ranging only to about 2-6 feet high. Thus, it should be a very obvious shrub to identify, by growth form, if found in the state. The leaves are slightly obovate, growing about 2 inches long, with slight serrations. The fruits are small for a plum, being only 3/8-inch across and dark purple to black. Anyone familiar with the shrub would have to have experience with it from Northern states; sadly, as it is rare even in VA and found only in the northern half of that state, it seems unlikely to ever be rediscovered in NC.
Taxonomic CommentsFor a long time, and often still so, this taxon has been included as a variety of Sand Cherry (Prunus pumila). RAB (1968) listed it as that taxon, as does NatureServe as well. Some recent references do split these two taxa, with true P. pumila being more sand-based in its habitat, such as on dunes; that species occurs south only to NJ. See references for distinctions between these two.

Other Common Name(s)Susquehanna Sand Cherry, Sand Cherry (limited now to P. pumila), Appalachian Sand Plum
State RankSH
Global RankG4G5
State StatusSR-P
US Status
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B.A. SorriePhoto taken 1 June 2018, E of Hartwick, MI, in jack pine barrens. DurhamPhoto_natural
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