European Bird Cherry Prunus padus 'Colorata'

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
bird cherry 'Colorata'


Prunus padus 'Colorata', more commonly known as the 'Colorata' European bird cherry, is a decorative variety of the species known for its ornamental features. It displays a multitude of colors throughout the different seasons, providing a visually captivating experience. During the spring, the plant is adorned with clusters of fragrant flowers that are deep pink in color, which later on can develop into small, black fruits that are favored by birds. The foliage also contributes to its attractiveness, with leaves that emerge as reddish or purple during spring, before maturing to a lustrous green. As the seasons transition into autumn, the leaves take on rich hues of red and yellow, adding to the plant's charm with a stunning display of fall colors. The bark, which is grey-brown and becomes rugged with age, offers additional visual interest, especially during the winter months when the leaves have fallen.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Colorata Bird Cherry, Red-leaved Bird Cherry

    • Common names

      Padus racemosa var. colorata, Prunus racemosa var. colorata, Cerasus padus var. colorata.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The European bird cherry (Prunus padus 'Colorata') contains compounds that can be toxic to humans if ingested. The primary toxic components are cyanogenic glycosides, which can release cyanide when the plant tissue is damaged. If parts of this plant, such as seeds, leaves, or stems are consumed, they may cause poisoning. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning from ingesting parts of the European bird cherry may include headache, dizziness, confusion, shortness of breath, and in severe cases, convulsions, respiratory failure, and possibly death. It is vital to avoid eating any part of the plant, especially the seeds found inside the cherry stones.

    • To pets

      The toxicity of the European bird cherry (Prunus padus 'Colorata') to pets is similar to its toxicity to humans. Pets that consume any part of this plant, including seeds, leaves, or stems, may suffer from cyanide poisoning due to the cyanogenic glycosides present. Symptoms of poisoning in pets can include vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, seizures, and potentially, death if not treated promptly. It is essential to prevent pets from chewing on or ingesting any portion of the European bird cherry.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      20 feet (6 meters)

    • Spread

      20 feet (6 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      Europe Asia


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental Value: The Prunus padus 'Colorata', commonly known as the European Bird Cherry, has attractive pink to white blossoms that provide a striking display in the spring.
    • Wildlife Attraction: The flowers are a good source of nectar for bees and other pollinating insects, while the cherries attract birds and other wildlife.
    • Shade Provision: As a deciduous tree, it can provide a canopy that creates shaded areas in gardens and parks during the hot months.
    • Seasonal Interest: Offers year-round interest with blossoms in spring, green leaves in summer, colorful foliage in autumn, and stark branches in winter.
    • Drought Tolerance: Once established, it has a degree of drought tolerance making it suitable for climates with occasional dry spells.
    • Urban Tolerant: Able to withstand some level of urban pollution, it can be a suitable choice for city environments.
    • Soil Adaptability: Can grow in a variety of soil types, though it prefers moist, well-drained soils.
    • Compact Size: Reaches a moderate size that makes it suitable for smaller urban gardens or as a street tree.
    • Landscape Design: Can be used as a focal point, in borders, or for naturalistic plantings to enhance landscape aesthetics.
    • Privacy: Can be planted in row formations to create a natural privacy screen or windbreak.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Wildlife Habitat: Prunus padus 'Colorata', also known as bird cherry, provides shelter and nesting sites for birds and small mammals due to its dense foliage.
    • Woodworking Material: Bird cherry wood is valued for making small turned items and decorative woodworking projects because of its close grain and potential for a polished finish.
    • Ink and Dye Production: The bark of bird cherry has historically been used to create a reddish dye for fabrics or as a component in ink.
    • Photography Props: Bird cherry's attractive blossoms are sometimes used by photographers as a natural prop for springtime and nature-themed photoshoots.
    • Culinary Garnish: The flowers of bird cherry are edible and can be used as a delicate floral garnish for desserts and cocktails.
    • Ice Cream Flavoring: In some artisanal culinary practices, the unique flavor of bird cherry blossoms is infused into ice cream or sorbets.
    • Decorative Branches: The colorful branches of bird cherry are used in floristry for arranging in vases or creating rustic wreaths, especially when in bloom.
    • Beekeeping: Bird cherry is a good source of nectar and pollen for bees, so beekeepers sometimes plant it near hives to support honey production.
    • Wood Fuel: The wood of bird cherry can be used as firewood due to its ability to burn slowly and provide steady heat.
    • Fragrance Production: The aromatic blossoms of bird cherry are sometimes used in perfumery or to make natural potpourri mixes.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Bird Cherry is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Bird Cherry is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Renewal: Prunus padus, commonly known as the bird cherry tree, often symbolizes new beginnings and renewal because it is one of the first trees to flower in spring.
    • Innocence: The delicate white flowers of the bird cherry are frequently associated with purity and innocence.
    • Education: Associated with learning due to the tree's accumulation of knowledge, as it is often found near educational institutions in some cultures.
    • Protection: In folklore, the bird cherry was believed to have protective qualities, with the ability to ward off evil spirits or influences.
    • Memory: Bird cherry trees are sometimes planted in remembrance of a loved one, serving as a living memorial.

Every 2-3 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Not applicable
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The European Bird Cherry, commonly known as Prunus padus 'Colorata', should be watered deeply to encourage root growth, meaning that water should penetrate at least 12 inches into the ground. Ideally, watering should be done once a week during dry periods. The amount of water needed will vary based on the size of the tree and weather conditions but aim for about 10-15 gallons per week for a young tree. It’s important to reduce the frequency of watering as the tree matures and to adjust based on rainfall, always checking the soil moisture before watering again.

  • sunLight

    The European Bird Cherry thrives in full sun to partial shade. It is essential to plant it in a location where it can receive at least four to six hours of direct sunlight per day. The best spot for the plant would provide morning sunlight with some afternoon shade, especially in hotter climates to prevent leaf scorch.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The European Bird Cherry is hardy and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, surviving minimum temperatures down to -30°F. The ideal growing temperatures for this plant are between 50°F and 75°F. It's important to avoid placing the tree in locations where temperatures might drop rapidly, which can lead to frost damage.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune the European Bird Cherry to remove dead or diseased branches, improve structure, and encourage healthy growth. The best time to prune is in late winter to early spring before new growth begins. Pruning should be done annually as needed, focusing on thinning out dense branches to allow light and air to penetrate the canopy.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    The European Bird Cherry 'Colorata' thrives in well-draining, loamy to sandy loam soils with a slightly acidic to neutral pH, roughly between 6.0 and 7.5. For optimal growth, a mix of garden soil, peat, and coarse sand or perlite can be used to ensure proper drainage and aeration.

  • plantRepotting

    European Bird Cherry 'Colorata' trees, being relatively large and growing in landscape settings, do not require repotting. They are typically planted once in a location where they can grow undisturbed.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    The European Bird Cherry 'Colorata' is adaptable to a wide range of outdoor humidity levels and does not have strict humidity requirements. It does well in the variable humidity found in temperate climates.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Growing European Bird Cherry 'Colorata' indoors is not recommended due to its size.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in full sun or partial shade, with ample space for root growth.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-7 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Prunus padus 'Colorata', commonly known as the Purple-leaved Bird Cherry, starts its life as a seed that germinates in moist, well-drained soil, typically in the spring. The seedling emerges and develops into a young sapling, establishing a root system and beginning to exhibit its characteristic bronze-purple leaves. As the sapling matures, it grows into a small tree, with its foliage becoming greener and the plant beginning to flower, producing fragrant white flowers that attract pollinators. After pollination, the flowers give way to small black cherries which are mostly ornamental and can be spread by birds, leading to new seedlings in the vicinity. Throughout its life, the Purple-leaved Bird Cherry undergoes seasonal changes, with leaves turning yellow to reddish in the fall before they are shed. The tree can live for several decades, going through repeated cycles of flowering and fruiting, which are critical stages for its reproduction and survival.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • The Prunus padus 'Colorata', commonly known as the purple-leaf bird cherry, is typically propagated by softwood cuttings. The best time to do this is in late spring to early summer when new growth is still flexible and has not yet matured. To propagate by cuttings, select a healthy, non-flowering shoot and cut a 4 to 6 inch (10 to 15 centimeters) portion with several leaves. Dip the cut end into rooting hormone to encourage root growth and plant it in a well-draining potting mix. The cutting should be kept moist and in a warm, indirect light location until roots have developed, which usually takes a few weeks. Once rooted, the new plants can be transferred to individual pots and eventually moved outdoors.