Species list


Prunus mahaleb

Mahaleb cherry

Mahaleb cherry, St Lucie cherry (Eng), cerezo de Santa Lucía (Spa), cirerer de guineu (Cat), oilarana (Baq), pau de San Guirgoriño (Glg), cerejeira-de-santa Lúcia (Por).


DID YOU KNOW...? The leaves of this tree have such an agreeable aroma they are used to perfume certain liqueurs.


This is a shrub or small tree which can reach 10 m in height. It has a greyish trunk and is very branching. It has pinkish aromatic wood and no thorns. The leaves are deciduous, simple, alternate, and 2-5 cm long. They are narrowly oval and sometimes more or less heart-shaped, with a finely serrated margin, and appear to be folded along the central vein. They are shiny and green on the upper side and paler on the underside. The leaf stalk has a pair of yellowish or reddish glands in the zone closest the blade. The white flowers develop in numerous, very aromatic groups. The fruits are small cherries, less than 1 cm in diameter, that are not eaten due to their bitter flavour. The single stone inside differentiates this species from the buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica L.), a plant with which it can be confused when it is not in flower.


This species does not form forests, but occurs in not very dry woodlands, from altitudes of 100-2000 m. It prefers chalky soils and needs light, so it is more frequent in woodland clearings as well as forest and shrubby fringes.


This plant is originally from the Mediterranean basin, central Europe and western Asia. On the Iberian Peninsula it is mainly found in the north and the Sistema Ibérico range, reaching the south in some places in the Bético and Penibético systems.