The Mayday tree is a species of cherry, native to northern Europe and northern Asia. It is a deciduous small tree or large shrub, that grows up to 10 m (33 feet) tall, which grows south of the Arctic Circle in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia and Ukraine. Single stem trees grow to a maximum height of about 35 feet(10 metres)and are oval in shape with a width that approaches 25 feet (8 metres) while clump form tend to be shorter and wider.
Tiny white flowers are extremely fragrant and provide the first botanical perfume of the season The blossoms are produced in clusters of 15-30 along the ends of the fruiting stalks generally starting during the May long weekend and continuing until the first week of June. The dark coloured fruit are about 10mm (0.4 inch) in diameter with a very astringent taste that is guaranteed to pucker your lips. Having said that, the berries are very high in antioxidant compounds and are claimed to prevent all kinds of diseases and with copious amounts of sweetener, make tasty preserves and wines.
Like all cherry trees, the Mayday prefers to be a multiple stem shrub as opposed to a single stem tree and it is necessary to periodically prune suckers from the base of the tree.
Because of its dark green leaf colour it provides excellent contrast as a back row tree that is tallest and darkest. For season long fragrance, the Mayday (Blossoms May 20 - June 1) can be planted as the back row to the north or east, with Lilacs (blossoms June 1 - July 1)as the intermediate middle row, with roses (Blossoms July 1 to first killing frost) as the shorter front row facing south or west.
Fascinating Foliage Facts:
Although the berries are a buffet on branches for songbirds, they are highly toxic to ruminants (animals with segmented stomachs) such as horses, cattle, and goats especially after a heavy frost. The wilted leaves release enough cyanide that ingestion of as little as 9 kg (20 lbs) of foliage can be fatal to an average size horse.