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Wild cherry, gean (WCH)

Prunus avium

Home Trees Wild cherry, gean (WCH)

Native range

Native to Britain and much of Europe.

Provenance Choice

There is limited knowledge of provenance variation, so seed from seed orchards or good British stands should be preferred; some selected clones are available. Avoid material from eastern and southern Europe which is not adapted to British conditions.

Site Requirements

This is a pioneer light demanding species which spreads through seed and suckers. Cold hardy and frost tolerant, but does not tolerate exposure and is sensitive to drought. It grows best on medium to very rich soils of fresh soil moisture status, including on more calcareous sites. Is not suited to dry or waterlogged soils, as well as those of poor soil nutrient status.

Pests and Pathogens

Bacterial canker (Pseudomonas syringae pv. morsprunorum) is common and widespread. It can be very disfiguring and sometimes fatal. Pruning wounds can also allow infection by Chondrostereum purpureum (silverleaf) which can be a progressive and often fatal disease.


It is mostly found in mixture with other broadleaves and extensive pure stands are rare. It should generally be favoured by climate warming, other than in eastern Britain where the risks of drought may increase.

Wild cherry is categorised as a secondary tree species. These are species that have been planted on a much smaller scale than the principal species but are reasonably well understood and have demonstrated their suitability for forestry in terms of stem form, growth rate and hardiness under current conditions and so have potential for wider use in future.