Nanking cherry

Nanking cherry flowering in spring.

The Nanking cherry is a lovely ornamental shrub with fragrant white flowers appearing before the leaves.  Shiny reddish-brown exfoliating bark and attractive scarlet red fruits adds seasonal interest. Use as a hedge or spring specimen in the shrub border.

Botanical name:

Prunus tomentosa

All Common Names:

Nanking cherry, Manchu cherry

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 3,
  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil

Season of Interest:

  • Mid spring,
  • Mid summer,
  • Mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Fragrant,
  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Multi-stemmed,
  • Round

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate,
  • Fast

More Information:

Size & Form

A broad spreading, densely twiggy shrub, becoming more open and picturesque with age.
Reaching 6 to 8 feet high and wide.

Tree & Plant Care

Full sun and well-drained soil. Best in loose loamy soils.
Tolerant of wind and drought once established.

Disease, pests, and problems

Prone to insect and disease problems, often short-lived.

Native geographic location and habitat

Japan, China and Korea

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife

Fruit in mid-summer attracts birds

Bark color and texture 

Shiny, reddish-brown, exfoliating bark

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate, 2 to 3 inches long with roughly-veined, serrated leaves.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Early, pink buds change to fragrant white flowers.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Attractive, edible, scarlet-red fruits in mid-summer



Location of Prunus tomentosa (Nanking cherry) at the Arboretum

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.