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Saint Lucie Cherry Prunus mahaleb (Rosaceae) HEIGHT to 12m. Often little more than a spreading shrub, but sometimes a small tree. BARK Greyish-brown and ringed with brown lenticels. BRANCHES Spreading, the young twigs covered with short greyish hairs and often slightly weeping at the tips. LEAVES Alternate, up to 7cm long and almost rounded, with a short point at the tip and a rounded or nearly heart-shaped base. The margin is finely toothed, the upper surface is glossy and the lower surface finely downy. REPRODUCTIVE PARTS The white, scented flowers, which open in April–May, grow in clusters of 3–10 in groups of racemes at the end of leafy shoots. The 5 petals are about 8mm long and surround the yellowish anthers. The fruit is a 0.6–1cm-long ovate or rounded black berry with bitter-tasting flesh surrounding a smooth rounded stone. STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION A native of central and S Europe, growing in woodland glades and thickets. Planted in our region for ornament and naturalised occasionally.
- © PAUL STERRY/Nature Photographers
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