All Species

Mayday Tree / European Bird Cherry / Chokecherry

Prunus padus, Prunus virginiana

Why is it a problem?

  • Anchorage has banned the sale of these trees because it aggressively invades moose and salmon habitat
  • Planted as an ornamental but escapes cultivation via lateral roots that sprout new trees 20 feet from the original tree, and cherries are spread long distances by birds
  • Alters plant and insect composition along streams, threatening salmon habitat
  • Poisonous to moose when eaten, sometimes resulting in death

How do I manage this plant?

  • Remove trees to reduce cherries spread by birds
  • Cut branches left on the ground can resprout—use for firewood, smoking meat, or take to the landfill; use wood chips as mulch if no cherries
  • Cutting stems causes trees to resprout thickly, requiring many years of follow-up cutting or the use of herbicides
  • Small stems and seedlings can be hand-pulled
  • A small amount of herbicide applied to a freshly cut stump will kill roots
  • Monitor for several years and remove new sprouts
  • Cooperative Extension Service “Control of Invasive Chokecherry Trees” publication

More info on species biology

Photo courtesy of Van den Berk Nurseries