Also known as dwarf American cherry or Great Lakes sand cherry, eastern sand cherry is a short, loosely branched deciduous shrub that spreads by rhizomes, flourishing in full sun on dry sites. White flowers with egg-shaped petals and sprays of yellow-tipped stamens appear May-June and are followed by shiny, reddish-purple fruits that mature to nearly black. The fruits are edible, but more highly prized by wildlife than humans. Narrow elipitical leaves are dark green and glossy above with pale undersides; they turn a gorgeous purple-red color in fall.
This species is considered extirpated in Ohio; no natural populations have been documented since 2000. Native habitats include prairies, dunes and shorelines, roadsides, and forest edges.
Use sand cherry in rock gardens, on sunny woodland edges, or as a shrubby groundcover. The extensive root system forms dense colonies and provides excellent stabilization on slopes. Wonderful for providing cover and habitat in an otherwise open meadow or prairie as it won’t grow higher than most perennial prairie species.
The purple-leaved cultivar derives its color from anthocyanins that are fee
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