There are three native Wild Cherries in the British
Islands, viz: The Gean (P. avium), the Wild or
Dwarf Cherry (P. Cerasus), and the Bird Cherry
(P. Padus). Of these the Gean is the species most
widely distributed throughout our country.
The Gean attains a height of eighty to a hundred
feet, with short, stout branches that take an
upward direction. The leaves are large, broadly
oval, with toothed edges, and downy on the underside.
They always droop from the branches, and in spring
they are of a bronzy-brown tint, afterwards changing
to pale green. Soon after the leaves have unfolded
they are almost hidden by the umbels of white
flowers, which have five heart-shaped petals,
and whose anthers and stigmas mature simultaneously.
The firm-fleshed fruit is the heart-shaped, black
or red, with scanty juice which stains the fingers.
This is believed to be the original wild stock
from which our Black Hearts and Bigarreau Cherries
have been evolved by the cultivator.