Shelterbelt Varieties for Alberta - Cherry Princepia

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 Plant characteristics | Fall colour | Site preference | Hardiness | Uses | Pruning

Scientific Name: Princepia sinensis (D. Oliver) D.Oliver ex Bean.

Plant Characteristics

A dense, spiny, deciduous shrub about 2 m (6 ft) in height at maturity with a spread of about 2 m (6 ft).

Cherry princepia can live 25+ years. It has a slow to moderate growth rate, 10 to 30 cm (4 to 12 in.) a year.

Branches are light grey-brown with spines 6 to 10 mm (0.25 to 0.5 in.) long.

Leaves - Leaves are simple, alternately arranged 5 to 8 cm (2 to 3 in.) long, bright green, narrow shape with smooth edges.

Flowers - Creamy white, 1 to 5 mm (up to 0.25 in.) across, bloom in May to early June.

Fruit - Red cherry like (pit), 1.5 to 2 cm (0.6 to 0.8 in.) across, forms August to September.

A thorny shrub with arching branches, leafs out very early in the spring, a habit which may be considered desirable.

Fall Colour

Cherry princepia leaves turn yellow in the fall.

Site Preference

Will be able to thrive on any well drained soils. Prefers a sandy soil. Will grow on moderately alkali soils.
Cherry princepia is drought resistant.

Prefers full sun to partial shade.


Winter hardy.


Cherry princepia is drought resistant and grows easily into a hedge. The plant is useful as a low growing roadside hedge, or as an ornamental. Planting distance between plants in a row is 1 to 1.5 m (3 to 4.5 ft).


Pruning is not often required. Maintenance pruning, removal of broken, crossed, or dead branches.

Shelterbelts Varieties for Alberta provides information on a number of other trees and shrubs than may be suitable for shelterbelts.

Visit our website directory for the Reforestation Woodlot Listings.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Toso Bozic.
This document is maintained by Brenda McLellan.
This information published to the web on May 7, 2001.
Last Reviewed/Revised on December 18, 2017.