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Prunus Serrula or Tibetan Cherry Prunus Serrula is an unmistakable cherry tree with polished bronze bark that peels away to reveal new copper growth beneath. This popular small ornamental cherry is synonymous with Prunus Serrula var. Tibetan and Prunus Tibetica. Other common names include Paper Bark Cherry and Birch Bark Cherry. This ornamental flowering cherry tree originates from China – it is a small yet vigorous deciduous tree.
In April it produces small white blooms which bud mid-pink and burst into bowl-shaped white stars with yellow whiskery stamen loved by pollinators. The flowers measure 2cms in width and grow in clusters than can cover the entire canopy. Foliage arrives with the blooms in narrow, willowy fingers of mid green which contrast nicely with its deeply polished mahogany-like bark. The summer months mean a rounded head of green pointed leaves and small red oval fruits that birds adore. In autumn the narrow leaves turn a buttery yellow before falling with the frosts.
Tibetan Cherry comes into its own in the winter months because its distinct tactile trunk is fully displayed. Deep mahogany bark peels away with age to reveal a golden copper beneath. This polished bark is a real statement and sets it apart from other ornamental cherries.
Height and Width of Prunus Serrula This is small vigorous round-headed tree that will reach a height of around 5 metres in 20 years, but often stays much shorter. It will spread wider at the crown, but the trunk holds this above head height meaning it does not take up the whole garden. You can keep it at shorter height with pruning.
How Hardy Is Prunus Serrula Prunus Serrula is hardy across all Europe and the UK. It can withstand sub-zero temperatures with ease. It is pollution tolerant too, so a good choice for urban locations.
How To Use Prunus Serrula If you want a specimen tree that looks good all year round, Tibetan Cherry is the perfect match. Its polished bark looks stunning set against a white background or dark evergreens. Under plant it with ferns and white summer shrubs to make the most of its glowing bark – the willowy leaves do not cast a thick shade.
Tibetan Cherry also works well in the border where it lifts a winter bed, and it can be grown in large well watered pots on the patio. This will naturally restrict its height and allows you to touch and admire the bark all year round. Plant yours in view of a window for year round pleasure.
How To Care for Prunus Serrula Prunus Serrula is tough and will grow in almost all conditions expect waterlogged soils which will rot its roots. If your soil is on the poor side, add a mixture of compost and manure to the planting hole and top up with a fresh layer of organic matter each spring. Tibetan Cherry prefers full sun but can manage in a shadier position too. You do not need to prune this ornamental cherry as it naturally holds a conical upward-reaching frame, but cut away any dead, crossed or broken branches in winter. If you want to restrict its height prune the leader stems.
Tibetan Cherry is valued for its unusual polished bark. It’s a tough and beautiful ornamental cherry that bees and birds love. If you have room for just one tree this is a stunning all-rounder. Read our blog post from more on trees with ornamental barks.