The mahaleb cherry is a native of southern Europe and south-western Asia. It requires a mild climate but is tolerant of soil conditions, and can grow on dry and stony slopes in hilly country. It is found in oak woods and in the company of shrubs, especially on limestone soils. It is a small tree, reaching a height of only 6 to 10 metres, and frequently occurs in shrub form. The trunk is generally crooked, and the crown has pendent branches. The shoots are thin, the buds small and ovoid. The white flowers, borne in a loose. Upright raceme, appear about a week later than those of the bird cherry. The fruit is a black, spherical ovoid drupe, ripening in late July, with a small smooth stone.
The mahaleb cherry is used as a pioneer in the afforestation of warm karst areas. It is sometimes cultivated as a short rotation crop for the making of pipes, cigarette holders and other articles of turnery. In dry and warm areas it is a good tree for parks and roadsides. Fruit growers use it as a rootstock for grafting cultivated varieties.
Leaves: Alternate, 3—7 cm long, broadly ovate, pointed, lustrous green above, with serrate margins; stalk glandular or without glands. Flowers: White and fragrant, 1—1.5 cm across. Fruit:
Drupes the size of a pea, black and bitter, borne in a loose, upright raceme.