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Interference to Hardwood Regeneration in Northeastern North America: Pin Cherry and Its Effects

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Pin cherry grows rapidly in a bright environment, overtopping most desirable hardwood species. Its rapid early development helps to reduce nutrient losses from a site and provides a source of mast for wildlife. Some pin cherry trees live for up to 45–50 years, but their abundance usually decreases after 30–35 years. Pin cherry begins producing abundant seeds at an early age, and high proportions of these remain viable in the forest floor for up to 6–7 decades. Germination has been linked to high availability of nitrogen (N) in the forest floor, either following fertilization or increased decomposition of the humus layer. Heavy overstory cutting or natural disturbances that reduce stocking below 50–60 ft2/ac in stands <90 years old will promote N release from the forest floor, resulting in abundant pin cherry within the new cohort. When at high density, pin cherry interferes with the development of most other species, and those of intermediate or low shade tolerance may die. Pin cherry may have a patchy distribution across a stand or form an almost complete canopy cover when well distributed at high densities. Its arrangement may affect long-term stand composition and development. Where milacres have ≥3 pin cherry ≥3 ft tall, or >1 of them >5 ft in height, a release treatment may prove necessary to ensure good levels of stocking with desirable hardwoods of seedling origin. Landowners should pay particular attention when they find a high pin cherry density across more than 30–40% of the stand area. These criteria may indicate where a release treatment would improve the composition of young hardwood stands.

Keywords: hardwood regeneration; interfering plants; pin cherry; release treatment

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-03-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.
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