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A shrub to small tree, usually 1 to 5 metres tall, but can reach 12 metres in height. The trunk is straight, with a narrow, rounded crown; when it grows in the open, it has a short trunk with a flat-topped crown; the crown is much reduced when it grows in the shade of a forest.
Leaves - Oval- to narrow-shaped, gradually tapering to a sharp tip, 8 to 10 centimetres long; thin, with round-toothed edges, shiny yellowish-green on both surfaces; two small glands on the leaf stalk at the base of the leaf.
Flowers - Small and white in flat-topped clusters of 5 to 7.
Fruit - Small, round, bright red cherries, with a sour-tasting flesh, 5 millimetres in diameter.
Bark - Dark reddish-brown, with large, widely-spaced, orange horizontal slits (lenticels); peels in horizontal strips.
Habitat - Pin cherry occurs in dry to moist open forests and clearings; it commonly occurs after fire or other disturbances. Because the berries are a favourite of many birds, it is often difficult to find ripe fruit on the trees.
Uses - Pin cherries were eaten by several First Nations peoples, depending on their local abundance, but the cherries did not dry well. They also used the bark for decorating baskets. Pin cherries make good jelly.