Black Cherry, Choke Cherry, Pin Cherry

What people call "cherry" is not all the same, or all equally valuable. November 18, 2006

I am about to obtain a large cherry tree, precise species yet unknown. If appropriate, I will mill, dry and manufacture some furniture with it. I am wondering if all cherry is equal to black cherry in furniture manufacturing? If I determine that this tree is a choke cherry or pin cherry, should I still proceed?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor B:
Here in the S Tier of NY, choke cherry and pin cherry are more shrubs than trees. If large means over 8", you must be talking about black cherry. The value of a black cherry log delivered to a mill starts at about $ .20 per BF and works its way up from there. If it is a lawn tree, mills may not accept it. Of course some mills advertise a high end of $ 7.00 per BF.

From contributor D:
I have found the black cherry to be clearly better quality lumber than the other species you mentioned. Even if the cherry you're getting is black (Prunus serotina), where it comes from can make a big difference. The black cherry found in central PA are not as valuable as the black cherry grown in the north woods of northern PA. One big difference I've seen is the sap deposits in the more southern cherry as opposed to the northern grown ones. The northern cherry typically has the tighter, more dense growth rings, too. The choke cherry (Prunus virginiana) and more commonly, fire or pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) are pioneer species. If they're the first to grow over a cleared area, or grown on the fringes of an opening, they are going to have lots of branching - more open crown, and not near as nice of a log to them as a forest species like the black cherry. Also, any tree that is commonly found on edge habitat is obviously more likely to have fence hardware, nails and the like in it than forest interior trees. I know after the last round of cutting pin cherry that grew along a field edge, I decided I don't have enough money to waste in blades to justify the so-so wood I got out of it. Hopefully you got a nice black cherry to saw, and it doesn't come with any surprise metallic presents!