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Prunus sargentii: Sargent Cherry1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson 2


With attractive bark, good fall foliage color, and delicate pink blooms, Sargent Cherry is highly recommended for the home and urban landscape. Growing at a moderate rate into a 25 to 40-foot-high, upright-spreading to rounded tree, 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. This structure could be somewhat of a problem in ice-storms. Training to develop well-spaced branches along the trunk may help reduce this problem. The attractive cinnamon brown bark has a shiny, almost polished appearance with prominent lenticels arranged around the trunk. In late April or early May the one-inch-wide, pink to deep pink single blooms appear before the new red-tinged leaves unfold. The small, pea-sized fruits which follow are red, ripening to a dark purple in June and July. The fruits are considered inconspicuous due to their size and color but are easily found by birds who quickly devour them. The three to five-inch-long, shiny, dark 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.

Figure 1. Middle-aged Prunus sargentii: Sargent Cherry
Figure 1.  Middle-aged Prunus sargentii: Sargent Cherry
Credit: Ed Gilman

General Information

Scientific name: Prunus sargentii
Pronunciation: PROO-nus sar-JEN-tee-eye
Common name(s): Sargent Cherry
Family: Rosaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 5A through 8A (Fig. 2)
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: shade; street without sidewalk; specimen; parking lot island < 100 sq ft; parking lot island 100-200 sq ft; parking lot island > 200 sq ft; tree lawn 3-4 feet wide; tree lawn 4-6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; highway median
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the tree

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range


Height: 25 to 40 feet
Spread: 25 to 40 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: vase, round
Crown density: dense
Growth rate: fast
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: serrate
Leaf shape: elliptic (oval), obovate
Leaf venation: pinnate, brachidodrome
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches, 4 to 8 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: red, copper, orange, yellow
Fall characteristic: showy

Figure 3. Foliage
Figure 3.  Foliage


Flower color: pink
Flower characteristics: showy


Fruit shape: oval
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit covering: fleshy
Fruit color: purple, black, red
Fruit characteristics: attracts birds; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches don't droop; showy; typically multi-trunked; thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Breakage: susceptible to breakage
Current year twig color: reddish, brown
Current year twig thickness: medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; slightly alkaline; well-drained
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate


Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: yes
Ozone sensitivity: sensitive
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: susceptible
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

Sargent Cherry works well as a street tree (probably the best of the cherries for street planting) in areas which can accommodate the spreading canopy. It can be planted along the entry road to a subdivision or commercial landscape on 20-foot-centers or in the tree lawn space between the curb and sidewalk. It is also very effective as a specimen in the lawn or landscape bed.

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, but provides reliable service during this period. Sargent Cherry requires little maintenance once established and is quite tolerant of drought and clay soil.

The cultivar `Columnaris' has a narrow, upright or columnar silhouette 30 to 40 feet tall by 15 feet wide and is very suitable for tight urban spaces, and along streets.

Propagation is by seed, grafting, or budding.

Pests and Diseases

This cherry is bothered by tent caterpillars, aphids, borers, and scales. It is probably less susceptible to disease than most other cherries.


1. This document is ENH-673, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #ENH-673

Release Date:April 22nd, 2015

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