Purple-leaved Sand Cherry (Prunus x cistena)
One popular member of this family is the Purple Leaved Sand Cherry. Fairly common in the Midwest, it is a lovely ornamental cherry that is a hybrid. It has acquired its lovely purple foliage from one parent and its hardiness and bushiness from another.
Purple-leaved Sand Cherry trees are basically dwarf trees. They grow to only 7 to 14 feet, spreading to a maximum of 7 to 10 feet or so. They grow fairly quickly when young, but slow as they get older. After five years they may be 3 feet tall and 2 1/2 feet wide. It may take as long as 15 years more for them to reach 6 feet. These small trees have branches that reach out and then up, so that they are shaped like a goblet. Purple-leaved Sand Cherry is a hybrid between P. pumila and P. cerasifera 'Atropurpurea'. The plant is grown for its cold tolerance and its purple foliage
As their name suggests, their foliage is the Purple-leaved Sand Cherry tree's most distinctive feature. Leaves are shaped like elongated ovals, and average about 2 inches in length. They are purplish-red from spring on through the growing season, turning more reddish-orange as fall approaches. By fall they are a stunning flame color just before they drop.
Small, flat white flowers emerge on the bare branches of Purple-leaved Sand Cherry trees in the early spring. Shortly after, leaves appear. Sometimes the flowers are slightly pink and usually fragrant. They give way in the fall to small cherries that are dark purple. They are not considered an edible food crop, although the birds enjoy them.
Purple-leaved Sand Cherry Choices
Schmidtcis (Big Cis TM) is a selection with twice the growth rate as the species. The leaves are larger and the growth period lasts longer. The foliage is purple.