Sour cherry Prunus cerasus, photographed by Martha Modzelevich.

Belongs within: Rosales.

Prunus is a genus of trees and shrubs native to Eurasia and North America, though several species have become distributed elsewhere through human horticulture. Members of the genus are noted for their fleshy fruits with a central stone. A number of species are significant food plants, such as P. persica (peach), P. domestica (plum), P. avium (sweet cherry) and P. armeniaca (apricot), and these and other species are also grown as ornamentals. The almond Prunus dulcis differs from other cultivated species in that it is the kernel of the seed that is eaten, rather than the flesh of the fruit itself. Seeds of other species (as well as of varieties of almond not selected for raw consumption) are often toxic due to the presence of hydrocyanic acid. The wood of some species is also used for purposes such as furniture production.

Characters (from Gu & Bartholomew): Trees or shrubs, deciduous. Branchlets sometimes spine-tipped. Axillary winter bud solitary, ovoid; terminal winter bud absent. Stipules membranous, soon caducous. Leaves simple, alternate, convolute (or conduplicate) when young; petiolate or sessile; petiole apex or base of leaf blade margin with or without nectaries; leaf blade margin variously crenate or coarsely serrate. Inflorescences apparently axillary, solitary or to 3-flowered in a fascicle; bracts small, soon caducous. Flowers opening before or at same time as leaves. Hypanthium campanulate. Sepals 5, imbricate. Petals 5, white, sometimes purple-veined, rarely greenish, inserted on rim of hypanthium, imbricate. Stamens 20–30, in 2 whorls; filaments unequal. Carpel 1; ovary superior, 1-loculed, glabrous or sometimes villous; ovules 2, collateral, pendulous. Style terminal, elongated. Fruit a drupe, glabrous, often glaucous, usually with a longitudinal groove; mesocarp fleshy, not splitting when ripe; endocarp laterally compressed, smooth, rarely grooved or rugose.

<==Prunus [incl. Cerasus, Padus] H90
    |--P. africana E09
    |--P. americana B75
    |--P. amygdalus S00
    |--P. andersonii H93
    |--P. armeniaca R-CT01
    |--P. avium C55
    |--P. buergeriana LO98
    |--P. cerasifera EH03
    |--P. cerasoides MH98
    |--P. cerasus C55
    |--P. dolichobotrys [incl. Combretum flavo-virens Laut. 1912] C78
    |--P. domestica HH03
    |--P. dulcis H93
    |--P. emarginata H93
    |--P. fasciculata H93
    |    |--P. f. var. fasciculata H93
    |    `--P. f. var. punctata H93
    |--P. fremontii H93
    |--P. grayana [incl. P. ssiori] LO98
    |--P. ilicifolia RJ11
    |    |--P. i. ssp. ilicifolia H93
    |    `--P. i. ssp. lyonii H93
    |--P. insititia C55
    |--P. jamasakura [incl. P. pseudo-cerasus] LO98
    |--P. lannesiana MH98
    |--P. laurocerasus BS01
    |--P. lusitanica H93
    |--P. mahaleb H91
    |--P. martabanicus CMT07
    |--P. maximowiczii LO98
    |--P. mira O88
    |    |--P. m. ssp. mira O88
    |    `--P. m. ssp. nepalensis O88
    |--P. mume LO98
    |--P. myrtifolia J87
    |--P. occidentalis J87
    |--P. padus ZB01
    |--P. pendula LO98
    |    |--P. p. f. pendula LO98
    |    `--P. p. f. ascendens [incl. P. subhirtella] LO98
    |--P. persica F11 [=Amygdalus persica LO98]
    |    |--P. p. var. persica H90
    |    `--P. p. var. nectarina H90
    |--P. prostrata SL06
    |--P. salicina HF03
    |--P. serotina H03
    |--P. spinosa BH02
    |--P. subcordata H93
    |--P. virginiana P93
    |    |--P. v. var. virginiana H93
    |    `--P. v. var. demissa [incl. P. virginiana var. melanocarpa] H93
    `--P. yedoensis MH98

*Type species of generic name indicated


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Last updated: 12 September 2020.

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