The Tibetan Cherry is a small deciduous tree with wonderful mahogany red bark making it an almost unique choice for a specimen cherry tree. It is often called Birch Bark Cherry because of the way that its old bark strips away to reveal shiny new layers. It has narrow, oval leaves that do not create thick shade, so you can plant quite a range of bulbs and plants around it. The small white flowers, in hot summers, mature into decorative but bitter red fruit. The leaves turn a clear yellow in autumn and fall away to reveal the tree's bark in all its glory - in the right light, it really does seem to be sculpted from polished copper or bronze but with a richer tone than either. Prunus serrula Tibetica is not a very big tree and is an excellent choice for a small garden where space and light are limited. The sheer beauty of the bark means that Tibetan Cherry deserves to be the centre of attention. It will grow to about 8 metres.
Birch Bark Cherry will give you the best display if it is planted where it can grow well - fertile, well-drained soil and full sun. The faster it grows, the more often it will shed its old, less bright skin and allow you to feast your eyes on its fresh red bark.
Top tip for getting the best from the bark: never give in to the temptation to peel away the bark yourself - this will actually slow down the tree's shedding cycle, and there is a risk of infection. Instead, when the tree starts looking a bit dull, give it a scrub with a non-metallic brush and warm soapy water, or you could use a pressure hose on a very gentle setting. This will brighten up the older bark without affecting the tree.
Prunus serrula Tibetica was brought to Britain at the turn of the last century by the intrepid Mr Ernest Wilson, who we have to thank for some 2000 Chinese plants that are now regular features of British gardens. It's not really a Tibetan Cherry at all, hailing instead from Szechwan province in Western China.
Please watch our tree planting video for full planting instructions.
How Standard Trees are Measured:
All our large trees are graded by their girth in centimetres 1 metre above ground level. They aren't measured by their height. So, a 6/8 standard has a trunk with a circumference of 6-8 centimetres, and an 8/10 standard has a trunk 8-10 centimetres. In any variety, an 8/10 is taller than a 6/8 but the heights between different varieties can vary hugely. So standard trees are roughly 2.5 - 4.5 metres tall.