Bird cherry trees, scientifically known as Prunus Padus, are native to northern Europe and Asia. Also known by several other names including, Hackberry, Hagberry, Mayday tree and European bird cherry. They are deciduous trees, usually growing up to 15 meters tall and often forming a wide canopy, although some can reach heights of 30 meters. The bark is smooth and has horizontal lenticels, similar to that of birch trees. The leaves are oval with pointed tips and a serrated edge.
The bird cherry tree produces racemes of white flowers in late spring. These flowers are fragrant and have five petals each, attracting a variety of pollinators, including Solitary Bees and Bumblebees. Following the flowering period, the tree produces small black cherries, about 6-8 mm in diameter. As the name suggests, these cherries are popular with birds, who eat them and disperse the seeds in their droppings, aiding the propagation of the tree.
Bees are particularly attracted to bird cherry trees due to their early blooming flowers, which provide an essential source of nectar and pollen after the winter months when food sources can be scarce. Nectar is a crucial energy source for bees, while pollen provides proteins and fats.
The pollination process of bird cherry trees involves bees and other insects like butterflies and moths. As these insects move from flower to flower collecting nectar and pollen, they inadvertently transfer pollen between flowers, facilitating cross-pollination. This process is vital for the fertilization and fruit production of bird cherry trees.
For those looking to grow bird cherry trees, they prefer damp woodland areas but can adapt to a variety of soil types. They require full sun or partial shade. The trees have a fast growth rate and are highly resistant to pollution, making them suitable for urban planting. They are often found in forests, hedgerows, and along riverbanks.
The relationship between bees and bird cherry trees is mutually beneficial and vital for the survival of both species. The trees provide an early source of nutrition for bees, while the bees aid in the tree’s pollination process, ensuring the production of cherries and the continuation of the species.