An entire Purpleleaf Sand Cherry tree in the
The Purpleleaf Sand Cherry belongs to the Rose Family (1).
Its identifying characteristics include: simple,
alternate leaves with thin grayish stems, reddish-purple leaves, and
small, sour black fruit (1).
The leaves are about 2 inches long, serrated, and elliptical (2).
These plants are shallow-rooted and will
produce suckers if the roots are damaged (3).
The trunk of the tree has a gray to gray-brown color with oozing sap (2).
This tree is about 6 to 8 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide when it is mature. It grows uniformly in an upright oval shape (8). The
produces single pinkish flowers, along with its small blackish fruit, that
attract other species.
Location on Campus
The Purpleleaf Sand Cherry is located in front of George
is at the end of the path that leads from Smyth Hall, by the Mother House,
and to George Hall. It is on the left
side of the path.
Habitat and Current Range
geographic range of the Purpleleaf
The Purpleleaf Sand Sherry tree is found in deciduous areas.
Many are found in the Great Plains region (7). It grows mainly in zones
It can survive in a wide range of climates and soil types, which allows this tree to grow in many areas (5). The parents of this hybrid are native to Western Asia and
Caucasia (Prunus cerasifera) and the Northeastern United States (Prunus
pinkish-white flowers of the
Sand Cherry (4)
The Sand Cherry can tolerate both hot, dry conditions and cold conditions because
its foliage grows thick on the branches. The habitat for the
Sand Cherry must provide
the tree with adequate sunlight, and the soil must be moist enough for the
plant to survive (2).
This plant, while not fast-growing, grows at a steady rate (1).
Sand Cherries can grow in a variety of soils including: acidic, loamy, moist, clay, sandy, and well-drained soils (2).
The pH of the soil must be between 3.7 and 7.3 (5).
This plant is propagated by rooted stem cuttings (2).
never pruned, the branches of Sand Cherries will weigh down with age, leading to an opening in the center
of the tree (2).
The Purpleleaf Sand Cherry is mostly valued for
its reddish-purple foliage, fragrant white and pink spring flowers, and
purple-black fruit (8). Because
of these unique characteristics and because of the plant's hardiness, the
Sand Cherry is widely used for landscaping (8).
The Purpleleaf Sand Cherry is a focal point shrub because it stands out so well and can
be used at borders, entranceways, as a deciduous screen, in-group
plantings, or as a formal or informal hedge (8).
makes a wonderful hedge because it only grows 6 to 8 feet tall (8). Only a few ornamental
trees, such as the Purpleleaf Sand Cherry, possess reddish-purple foliage (2).
found on Purpleleaf Sand
There are really no
known ethnobotanical uses for this tree. It
was first developed in
1910, so in relation to many other plant species,
it has not been around very long. The
fruit is used for making jellies, jams, and pie, but is
not not usually eaten
directly from the tree (2).
|Japanese beetle (10)
It was a crossbred tree developed by Dr.
Niels Hansen of South Dakota
State University in 1910 (3). The
Purpleleaf Sand Cherry is a hybrid between P. pumila and P.
Since this species is a hybrid it will not breed true from seed (6).
Prunus is the Latin name for plum, x indicates that the
plant has a hybrid nature, and cistena comes from the Sioux word
for "baby" (2).
fruits are edible and provide a great food source for many
small birds including robins, cardinals, and waxwings. Many of these
birds also nest in the tree (2,3).
In areas such as Nebraska, the fruit provides nourishment for coyotes (7).
Sand Cherries have significant disease and pest problems that
result in a relatively short service life of 10 to 15 years (2).
As the plant ages, it becomes more susceptible to trunk cankers and pests that bore
into the trunk. These pests
include honey fungus and the Japanese Beetle, whose favorite delicacy
is the Purpleleaf Sand Cherry. (2,6).
Most of the members of genus Prunus produce hydrogen cyanide, which is a toxin found
in the leaves and
seed. There is only a small amount present so it is not harmful, but it can be deadly in larger quantities. Smaller doses
of hydrogen cyanide can improve digestion and help treat cancer.
There is no research showing the presence of hydrogen cyanide in the Purpleleaf
Sand Cherry (6).
In the fall, the reddish–purple leaves
and black fruit change to a
bronzy-green color (6).
When this plant is young, the twigs have a red-brown color, but this color
turns dark gray as the plant ages (2).
Looking to purchase a Purpleleaf Sand Cherry tree? Check out the
Sleepy Hollow Nursery Web Pag:.http://www.sleepyhollownursery.com/descriptions.asp?cn=p
This site contains a short biography and information on the works of the
man that developed the Purpleleaf Sand Cherry: Dr. Niels Hansen. http://lib.sdstate.edu/archives/ua/ua53_4.html#scope%20II
Books, Reference Materials, and the Web
R. Mecklenburg and C. Peterson. 1994. Nursery management, administration
and culture. 3rd ed. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. 486pp.
trees-new/prunus_xcistena.html. Accessed November 12 2003
Schildman, G; Sather, H.
Some Feeding Patterns of Coyotes in Nebraska.
Ecological Monographs, Vol. 25, No. 1. pp. 1-37.
Accessed November 12 2003.
Krahn, V., Krahn, L. http://www.selectseedlingnursery.com/
cherries.html#Anchor-San-34743. Accessed December 2 2003.
Hutchings, J. Builder’s Guide
to Landscaping. McGraw
Hill: New York. 1997
Accessed December 2 2003.
National Arbor Day Foundation. http://www.arborday.org/treeguide/nitree.cfm?id=109.
Accessed November 12 2003.
State University. http://www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/
pr_stena.html. Accessed November 12 2003
University of Connecticut. http://www.hort.uconn.edu/plants/p/prucis/prucis1.html
Accessed November 12 2003.