Black Cherry

Scientific Name:

Prunus serotina

Other Names and Species:

American Cherry
North American Cherry

Not to be confused with other domestic and exotic species with similar names, such as Brazilian cherry, or jatoba (Hymenaea courbaril), which is extremely dense and strong and has a different color and texture compared to black cherry.


North America


Prized for its rich color and fine graining, black cherry is commonly seen in American cabinetry and furniture. The fine, satiny texture of the wood is uniform and frequently wavy, with distinctive gum veins and pockets. The lustrous heartwood ranges from light to dark reddish brown, constrasting sharply with the sapwood, which may be light brown to pale with a light pinkish tone; however, between boards there may be significant color variations. Black cherry is extremely light-sensitive, so there is a strong color change and darkening over a short period time when the wood is first exposed to light.


A strong but moderately hard wood with excellent shock resistance; commonly found in borders and accents.

Janka Hardness: 950

As a flooring option black cherry is just under forty-four percent harder than Douglas fir, five percent softer than teak, around seventy-three percent as hard as red oak, close to two thirds as hard as hard maple, about fifty-eight percent as hard as wenge, approximately fifty-two percent as hard as hickory or pecan, and nearly forty-three percent as hard as santos mahogany’s ranking of 2200.


Black cherry has good machining, sanding, and holding ability, and is high in bending strength.

Principal Uses:

Second only to black walnut in value as a fine hardwood species, black cherry is commonly found in fine furniture, veneers, and wood flooring borders and accents. It is also used for printing and engraving blocks, professional and scientific instruments, and decorative items.