Black Cherry

(Also known as Bird Cherry)

Prunus serotina

Family: Rosaceae

Type of weed:

Flower colour(s):

Priority Weed Local Priority Weed. (See more weeds of the class.)

Flowering Months: , , , ,


A deciduous small tree or large shrub, 8–16m tall.

The leaves are alternate, elliptic in shape, taper-pointed, with fine-toothed margins, sometimes brown-hairy beneath.

The inflorescence hangs like a pendant, with many small heavily scented white flowers with five petals. It flowers spring to early summer.

The fruit is a shiny black, small drupe with a large seed.


It is spread by birds that eat the fruit and in dumped garden waste.

Impact on bushland

Bird Cherry can form dense stands and replaces and crowds out native plants. Little grows below, except for its own seedlings, reducing the diversity of native plants and the habitat they provided to native wildlife.


Alternative planting

Native plants

Screening shrubs and small trees such as:

  • Hakea dactyloides
  • Callistemon spp.
  • Acacia spp.
  • Leptospermum spp.

Council provides a tool, on its Mountain Landscapes website, to help you choose native alternative plantings. Choose your village, soil, vegetation community and the purpose of your planting, and the tool will give you suggestions.

There are native nurseries in several Blue Mountains villages, including Glenbrook, Lawson and Katoomba. Please also ask at your favourite local nursery.


  • Hand remove
  • Stem inject or frill
  • Cut and paint

Manual control

Hand remove

Grasp stem at ground level. Rock weed backwards and forwards to loosen roots, then pull out gently. Carefully tap the roots to dislodge attached soil. Replace disturbed soil and pat down.

  • Leave weeds so that roots do not make contact with soil; on a rock, for instance. A small amount of debris may be hung in a tree or removed from the site.
  • Vary the position of your body to avoid fatigue when removing plants by hand over extended periods.

Chemical control

Note: Herbicides that may be used for this weed include Glyphosate.

Stem injection or frilling

Stem injection
Drilling holes at 45° and squirting poison into holes
Apply poison immediately after drilling

At the base of the tree, drill holes at a 45° angle into the sapwood (just under the outer bark) at two finger space intervals around the entire base of the tree. Repeat this process below the lowest branch


As an alternative to drilling, make cuts into the sapwood with a chisel or axe. Fill each cut/hole with herbicide immediately. Repeat the process at 3 cm intervals around the tree.


Plants should be healthy and actively growing. Deciduous plants should be treated in spring and autumn when leaves are fully formed. For multi-stemmed plants, inject or chip below the lowest branch or treat each stem individually. Herbicide must be injected immediately before the plant cells close (within 30 seconds before translocation of herbicide ceases.)

Cut and paint

Applying poison to cut stump from squeeze bottle
Apply poison immediately after cutting

Useful for small to medium sized woody weeds up to 10 cm in diameter.

Make a horizontal cut as close to the ground as possible with secateurs or loppers, and immediately apply concentrated Glyphosate to the exposed stump surface. Do not allow the surface to get covered with soil.

Specific control tips for this weed

Treat plants before they fruit to prevent spread by birds. The plant needs to be treated with herbicide because it will coppice (grow new shoots from cut stems) and sucker.

Note: care needs to be taken when handling prunings; the wood and bark are poisonous.

  • Hand pull small seedlings.
  • Stem inject, or cut and paint larger plants.

Cut parts of the plant can be spread out to dry off the ground. Once dead the material will decompose in place or may be composted.

For key points on these techniques:

Local Priority Weed

Control measures:

  • The plant should be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.
  • Plants under 4 metres in height should be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.
  • The spread of this plant should be adequately contained to prevent spread impacting on priority assets. Weed notices will only be issued for these weeds under special circumstances.