Species Specs: Cherry, Black (American)


Image courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation

Prunus Serotina

Deciduous tree found primarily in southeastern Canada through the eastern half of the U.S. The majority is produced in the mid-Atlantic states. Readily available.

Black (American) cherry is considered a premium and highly sought-after species commonly used as lumber and veneer in flooring, cabinetmaking, furniture, gunstocks, musical instruments, architectural woodwork, interior millwork, and decorative veneers.

The heartwood ranges from a light pink to light brown color when first cut/sanded, then darkens to a deep reddish brown over a short period of time. The sapwood can be a light brown to pale yellowish tone. The color patinas significantly with age, and can be accelerated by exposure to light.

The grain is normally straight, with a fine and uniform texture. Dark streaks and curly or wavy texture is also common with cherry. The texture is satiny, with some gum pockets. Quartersawn wood often shows distinctive flake patterns. The grain is semi-ring-porous to diffuse-porous.

Great variety of color and figure within the species, as well as variation in color among boards, especially in lower grades.


Above average – Black (American) cherry has a dimensional stability factor of 3.7 percent (radial) and 7.1 percent (tangential), meaning this species may shrink/swell up to 7.1 percent of its given width, depending on how it’s cut, when going from green (30 percent MC) to oven-dried (0 percent MC).

Black (American) cherry = .00126 (radial), .00248 (tangential)


No known issues.

A softer species that sands very well. It can be difficult to sand because of the density, which can make sander marks more visible than on some woods. When staining or using natural oils, it is normally required to bring the sanding sequence to a higher grit to minimize visible scratches. When sanding cherry that has been installed along with harder, denser species, it is important to sand on a diagonal and finish with a multi-head sander or hard plate to minimize dish out. Cherry stains well, but can sometimes appear blotchy, which adds to the beauty of this species, but must be addressed with the end-user during the initial finish option discussions.

Sources: Wood Handbook (Wood as an Engineering Material), USDA Forest Products Laboratory | WOOD!; Copyright © 2016, Eric Meier | Wood Identification and Use; Copyright © 2006, Terry Porter

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