Invasive Plants and Agricultural Pest Management
Welcome to Alaska's Invasive Plant Program. Our program coordinates prevention, outreach, and management strategies for invasive plant issues through collaboration with land managers, agencies, organizations, and policy makers across Alaska. These efforts are guided by the implementation of our Strategic Plan and relevant noxious weed regulation and policy. Our goal is to help keep Alaska's pristine landscapes and natural resources free from impacts of noxious and invasive plants.
European Bird Cherry (Prunus Padus)AK Natural Heritage Program Invasiveness Ranking: 74
- Taking Action
Grows up to 30 feet tall
Sprouts from its trunk, stems, and roots when cut
Is rounded in shape, has low branching crowns, and its multi-stemmed growth can form dense thickets
Bark is relatively smooth and grey to brown
Visible pores on the bark are called lenticels
Leaves are ovate, elliptical, and thinning at the tip
Leaves are dark green with 2 small glands at the base of them
Edges of the leaves are sharply serrated
Flowers are white, small and very aromatic
Flowers are arranged in drooping cylindrical clusters called racemes
In Alaska, blooms are seen between late May and early June
Small, bitter black cherries ripen in late summer
Birds eat the cherries and spread the seeds to new areas
Trimming & cutting European Bird Cherry stimulates growth!
Root suckers and fallen trees can create thickets of new trees
Can create defense chemicals called cyanogenic glycosides
In rare circumstances, these trees can cause cyanide poisoning of moose
Native to Northern Europe and Asia
Survives prolonged temperatures to -33 degrees fahrenheit
The northernmost extenst in Alaska is the south side of the Brooks Range, north of the Arctic Circle
In Alaska, it has been planted in residential lanscapes, parks, and a few remote cabins
It is rapidly invading riparian stream sides and natural forests in Anchorage and Fairbanks
Takes over the understory of forests and forms thickets where native plants once grew
Cutting alone is not an effective solution because this tree readily re-sprouts from stumps, stems, and roots (including fragments)!
Seedlings and small trees can be pulled by hand. Trees up to 2" in diameter can be removed with a tool called an "Uprooter" as shown below. Note that ALL of the roots must be removed, and the tree disposed of, or it will re-sprout!
Systemic herbicides are the most effective way to control European Bird Cherry because they are absorbed directly into the tree's vascular system to kill ALL parts of the plant so it cannot re-sprout. Certain herbicides can be applied to a cut stump to prevent the stump and roots from sprouting. UAF Cooperative Extension can provide additional information on herbicides or a commercial pesticide applicator certified in Alaska can be hired to apply herbicides for you.
Plant Alternatives for European Bird Cherry
or contact Heather Stewart
Invasive Weeds and Agricultural Pest Coordinator