A deciduous shrub 1 to 3 ft high, of low, spreading habit, with glabrous round twigs. Leaves obovate to narrowly oval, tapering to both ends, from 3⁄4 to 2 in. long, 1⁄4 to 3⁄4 in. wide, with shallow, rounded teeth, dark glossy green, and quite glabrous; stalk 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. long. Flowers white, 3⁄4 in. across, produced in usually stalkless umbels of about four from buds on the previous year’s shoots, each flower on a slender stalk 1⁄2 to 1 in. long. Fruits about the size of a large pea, very deep reddish purple.
Native of continental Europe and parts of Siberia; cultivated in England for more than three centuries. It is a shrub of neat and pleasing habit, forming naturally a low, mound-like mass of slender branches, and wearing a very healthy aspect because of the deep shining green of its foliage. In gardens it is rarely seen except grafted standard high on a cherry stock. In this way its branches form a mop-headed mass with the lower branches pendent of their own weight. The fruits have a cherry flavour, but are too harsh and acid to be palatable. It blossoms in early May.
cv. ‘Variegata’. – leaves stained more or less with yellowish white, sometimes half the leaf being of this colour, the other half green.
P. × eminens Beck Cerasus intermedia Host; P. reflexa Hort., not Walp. – The cherry that has been grown in gardens under the name P. reflexa is thought to be a hybrid between P. fruticosa and P. cerasus. It differs from P. fruticosa in its more robust habit and sturdier branches, its more deeply and irregularly toothed leaves (of the same shining dark green), and its shorter-stalked flowers. A very pretty small tree with pendulous branches. Hybrids between the two species are fairly common in the wild.