The Sand Cherry is so named because when it is found in the wild, it is usually growing on sand dunes on lake and ocean shores that are uninhabitable by other species. The rugged terrain on which the Sand Cherry has adapted has made it an extremely hardy shrub that is resistant to drought, saline soils, low nutrient soils and can laugh at exposed windy locations. The Sand Cherry is so hardy, that it is used as rootstock for many of the plums and cherries.
The flowers that appear in late May are scattered throughout the leaves and turn into an abundance of large (1.5 cm) glossy, dark red cherries with a relatively big stone. The berries make good jelly but the real purpose is the pollination they provide to other tree. In northern orchards, the rule of thumb is one sand cherry for every 20 late season (Brookred, Pembina) plum trees.
The Sand Cherry not surprisingly grows best on well drained sandy soil in full sunlight conditions. Plantations on heavy clay soils can result in periodic winter dieback.