Weeping cherry trees are often found in home and commercial landscape designs. Growing to heights of up to 30 feet, this tree is characterized by its graceful, weeping shape and its light pink showy blooms. While weeping cherry trees are an attractive addition to home garden settings, they are poisonous if ingested by animals.
Weeping cherry trees are also known by their scientific name Prunus subhirtella "Pendula" and the common name weeping higan cherry. These trees are members of the Rosaceae family, which are not native to North America. Often used as specimen trees or shade trees, weeping cherries typically grow to heights of 20 to 30 feet and have spreads of 15 to 25 feet. Weeping cherry flowers are showy and the leaves are a glossy green. Like all members of the Prunus genus, weeping cherry trees can produce symptoms of plant poisoning if ingested.
Weeping cherry trees are poisonous for animals such as dogs, cats and horses. Most trees in the Prunus genus are resistant to wildlife such as deer because of their toxic properties. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, consuming the stems, leaves, seeds and flowers of weeping cherry trees can cause animals to experience difficulty breathing, shock, panting, red mucous membranes, seizures, coma, decreased heart rate and reduced amounts of oxygen in the bloodstream.
Weeping cherry tree seeds, stems and leaves are poisonous and can produce symptoms of plant poisoning. According to the ASPCA, weeping cherry trees are most toxic when their leaves are in the process of wilting. Weeping cherry trees contain toxic substances known as cyanogenic glycosides, which cause plant poisoning symptoms. The small fruit on the Prunus species such as weeping cherry, wild cherry and black cherry are not considered poisonous to animals. Most severe cases of plant poisoning have occurred in grazing animals such as cattle and horses that have ingested large amounts of this plant. Consuming small amounts of this tree usually causes mild diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
All member of the Prunus species are toxic to animals, with grazing animals the most seriously affected because of the large amounts they ingest. If your animals consume the leaves, twigs or stems of any cherry tree, seek the advice of a veterinarian even if no adverse symptoms are apparent. Prompt treatment is often the difference between life and death when animals suffer from plant poisoning.