P is for Prunus

Prunus is the genus name of the cherry family. We squirrels are well aware of the many types of cherry trees you humans have created to beautify your spring. Well, keep doing it! But could you lean toward those simple flowers, not the complicated ones?

Have you ever noticed that the bees can’t find their way to the center with the nectar and pollen? It’s the same with some of your more complicated flowers–just go back to the simple ones if you are planting for pollinators.

We will leave it to you to look at the various kinds. Wild cherries might even have self-seeded in your yard after a bird ate the fruit. All bloom better in full sun. They have widely varying blooming times, and some even bloom in the fall.

Members of the Prunus genus rely on bees to pollinate their flowers. The more flowers visited, the more cherries a tree will have.


Purchase plants and seeds from a known source that does not use pesticides / insecticides, particularly neonicotinoids. They are not safe for honeybees and native bees. Watch this bee researcher’s Ted Talk to learn more about bees, why they are dying and how you can help:

Marla Spivak: Why Bees Are Disappearing




Coney the Pine Squirrel

In the mountains, my favorite food of late summer is Chokecherries.

They are a bit hard to get to when it’s still a shrub, because the branches are weak, but we Pine Squirrels manage. When the chokecherry grows to a small tree it’s easier for us to reach the fruits at the branch tips.


Unfortunately, we have to share this treat. Bears, fox, coyotes, grouse, and even bighorn sheep like the fruits. In fact, humans do to! But always make sure you have proper identification before you eat a wild plant.


Chokecherries, Prunus virginiana, can be found coast to coast, but they are pretty famous out west for being one of the ingredients in pemmican, a food that keeps well so was used by the Native Americans and early traders.