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I have a large wild black cherry tree, prunus serotina I believe. In southeast Michigan, USA.

For the past several weeks, it has been profusely dropping immature fruit. It bloomed nicely, and the petals fell. But then the buds started to fall in great numbers, with what appeared to be a very small, immature cherry in them. And now a few weeks later, the fruit is still green but getting to be the full size of 6mm or so, and still dropping with every slight breeze. From inside the house, it sounds like hail.

It's done this in previous years. It always manages to make some fruit, but maybe only 5% of the blooms it puts out. It's such a lovely tree and I'd really hate to lose it. Should I be concerned, and should I do anything to assure the tree does not die?

(I really don't care about the fruit production, and actually it's nice most of the berries fall off before they are ripe and stain the deck.)

Here are some of the fruits that have fallen:

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You can see most of the stalks have only a few berries left on them. It looks like the remaining fruit is a mix of green and browned.

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The tree is quite large. There are a couple dead branches in the canopy that I can't reach to remove, and there are some dead twigs here and there, but to my untrained eyes this tree isn't in bad shape.

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The only thing otherwise obviously wrong with it is a wound at the trunk, which the tree had when I bought the house:

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(I don't think those lights are girdling the tree. They've been up only for about 6 weeks and are wound loosely.)

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The fissure at the bottom is of most concern - it's hard to be sure how deep the gap is at the bottom, so you might try inserting something to see how far into the wood it goes. Also take a biro or a pen and press into the wood just above that opening to test how soft it is (or not). I can't see any obvious evidence of weeping from the fissure, but if the gap at the bottom goes in a fair way, I'd be inclined to call an arborist and get the tree checked from a safety point of view - that's a lot of tree to suddenly fall.

  • This is good advice, but are you saying that fissure is causing the fruit to drop? – Phil Frost Jun 12 '17 at 20:05
  • Possibly, but not necessarily - some of the dropping fruit will be natural 'June drop', some are obviously troubled with a fungal infection (sometimes caused by too much damp weather, or too many fruits with poor air circulation round them), but others may be falling because the tree is compromised and cannot maintain its crop of berries/seeds. – Bamboo Jun 12 '17 at 21:26

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