Cherry plum (Prunus cerasifera) is the most common and widely distributed of the several non-native Prunus that have become naturalized in the Boise Front. It is also one of our earliest blooming small trees, with white or pink flowers appearing in early spring before the leaves develop. Both green and purple-leaved cultivars are common, sometimes growing side by side. The tasty fruit, about the size of a large cherry, matures mid summer.
The relatively small, ovate-elliptic leaves are nearly glabrous except for patches of hair in angles (“armpits”) of veins on the underside of the leaf, which can help with identification. In studies on some unrelated species, comparable patches of hair have been found to provide a refuge for beneficial mites.