NATIVE RANGE AND HABITAT
Sargent cherry is native to northern Japan and Korea.
Not native to Kentucky.
Growth Habit and Form
Sargent cherry is an upright-spreading to rounded tree, with deep reddish brown, polished bark. Growing at a moderate rate into a 25 to 30-foot high Sargent cherry makes an ideal shade tree, spreading as wide as it is tall and casting dense shade below. It is often grown with several multiple trunks or upright branches originating from the same position on the trunk ascending in a graceful fashion.
Leaves are alternate, simple, elliptic to narrow-obovate, serrate (toothed), and 2 to 5 inches long and half as wide. The shiny, deep green leaves take on various shades of orange, bronze, and red before dropping in late September, often well before other trees, which are still green. Young spring foliage is reddish tinged as they emerge.
In late April or early May the 1-inch-wide, pink to deep pink single blooms appear before the new red-tinged leaves unfold. Flowers are borne in 2 t 6-flowered clusters on 1-inch long stalks.
Fruit is a 1/3-inch long, ovoid, purple-black drupe with ripens in June and July. Fruit is inconspicuous but attract birds.
The attractive cinnamon brown bark has a shiny, almost polished appearance with prominent horizontal lenticels arranged around the trunk.
Wild and Cultivated Varieties
‘Accolade’ is a rounded, spreading form with blush-pink flowers in April. Trees grow 20 to 25 feet in height. This cultivar is the result of a hybrid between Prunus sargentii and Prunus subhirtella.
‘Columnaris’ is a narrower, more upright form that grows 25 to 35 feet high, 10 to 15 feet wide.
With attractive bark, good fall foliage color, and delicate pink blooms, Sargent cherry is highly recommended for the home and urban landscape. Can be used as a street tree or in parks.
Hardy in USDA Zone 4 to 7.
Cultivation and Propagation Information
Sargent cherry should be grown in full sun on very well-drained, acid soil. Although it grows moderately fast and can reach up to 60 feet tall in the wild, it is relatively short-lived with perhaps a 20-year lifespan under landscape conditions. Sargent cherry requires little maintenance once established and is quite tolerant of drought and clay soil. Propagation is by seed, grafting, or budding.
Diseases and Insects
This cherry is bothered by tent caterpillars, aphids, borers, and scales. It is probably less susceptible to disease than most other cherries.
Wildlife enjoys the fruit.
Sargent cherry needs minimal maintenance.
TRADITIONAL AND MODERN USES
Wood has been used for timber in Japan for many years.