Black cherry (or wild cherry) trees have been grown for centuries for their bark, scent and berries. However, with so many trees growing in the wild, it may be difficult for an amateur to spot a true wild cherry tree. Just by following a few steps, though, you can hone your tree-identifying skills to find a wild cherry tree.
Look at the bark of the tree to see if the bark is smooth and purple-brown with some gray horizontal lines. If so, note that this may be a young wild cherry tree. Look at the bark again to check if those lines are thick, dark black-brown or if the bark is dark brown to black and looks cracked and broken. If so, note that this may be an adult wild cherry tree.
Check the leaves of the tree to see if they are "simple" (no ridges on the edges) and if they are dark green if you're checking in the spring or if they are orange or yellow if you're checking in the fall months. Check the size of the leaves to see if they are between 2 and 5 inches long. If all of this is true, note that you are identifying a possible wild cherry tree.
Check the leaves again to ensure that the leaves have slightly straight lines and not overly curved lines running through them (they may look like veins). If they are curved, note that this may be a buckthorn tree, which has poisonous fruit that looks similar to black cherries.
Check around the leaves on the branches for flowers if you are looking in the springtime. Check for flowers that are small, white and in bunches. This is an indication of a cherry tree.
Check around the leaves of the branches for small dark red berries if you are looking in the summertime. Check also for birds around the tree because these berries are food for many birds. Check that the berries are in clusters and check that there is only one pit in each cherry. Note that this is a black wild cherry tree.
Bring photos and information along with you to compare and contrast with possible wild cherry trees.
Do NOT eat any part of the tree before checking with a professional or doctor beforehand, as the twigs, leaves and seeds are highly toxic.