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Prunus virginiana Schubert, an attractive variety of Prunus virginiana commonly known as Virginia Bird Cherry. Shubert is a small ornamental deciduous tree prized for its highly-decorative appearance. This lovely variety can be used in mixed borders, for screening purposes planted en masse or, on its own, as a specimen plant. Other common names include Bitter Berry, Chokecherry and also Western Chokecherry.
The deciduous foliage of the Prunus virginiana Schubert consists of oval leaves with toothed margins. Unfolding as pale green with a grey underside, the leaves mature to a stunning, deep reddish purple in the early summer. From mid to late spring, the stem is engulfed in a profusion of dense spikes of small, star-shaped flowers, pure white and fragrant. Cherry-like, dark purple fruit follow the flowers in summer and are cherished by birds. Although edible, the fruit has an astringent bitter taste, and can really only be used for jams and jellies.
Naturally occurring on the wooded slopes and ravines of North America, Prunus virginiana is adaptable and undemanding. This purple-leaved Schubert variety is equally versatile, but, for best results choose deep, fertile soils that are alkaline. Tolerates full sun to partial shade but best in full sun.
First introduced in 1943, the Schubert variety of Virginia Bird Cherry is an established cultivar with a good track record. This ornamental tree is fully hardy in the United Kingdom, and it will not be bothered by frost. Fast growing and vigorous, and with a spreading habit, Prunus virginiana Schubert will achieve a maximum height of just 10 metres. Low-maintenance, this variety needs little effort to stay in shape. Remove suckers to prevent the plant from spreading and any dead or damaged growth to keep it healthy and neat.
Although Prunus virginiana Schubert grows as a conical tree on a full standard clear stem. Trained like this, Virginian Bird Cherry displays a dense foliage canopy and prolific bloom, making it a good candidate for above fence or wall screenings. Pair it with evergreens that will complement its purple foliage. Because of its particularly showy appearance, this ornamental tree can also be grown as a focus of interest in the garden.