|The most important defoliating insects attacking cherry trees include the eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) and the cherry scallop shell moth (Hydria prunivorata). Infestations of these insects are sporadically heavy, with some apparent growth loss and occasional mortality if heavy defoliations occur several years in a row.Attacks by numerous species of insects cause gum defects in cherry, resulting in reduced timber quality. Gum spots in the wood are often associated with the Agromyzid cambium miner (Phytobia pruni), the peach bark beetle (Phloeotribus liminaris), and by the lesser peachtree borer (Synathedon pictipes). A wide variety of insects can cause injury to terminal shoots of black cherry seedlings and saplings, resulting in stem deformity. Archips spp. and Contarinia cerasiserotinae are among the more important.
White-tailed deer, rabbits, and hare feed on black cherry seedlings. Cherries are an important source of mast for many nongame birds, squirrel, deer, turkey, mice and moles, and other wildlife. The leaves, twigs, and bark of black cherry contain cyanide in bound form as the cyanogenic glycoside, prunasin. During foliage wilting, cyanide is released and domestic livestock that eat wilted foliage may get sick or die. Deer eat unwilted foliage without harm.
Cherry bark has medicinal properties. In the southern Appalachians, bark is stripped from young black cherries for use in cough medicines, tonics, and sedatives. The fruit is used for making jelly and wine. Appalachian pioneers sometimes flavored their rum or brandy with the fruit to make a drink called cherry bounce. To this, the genus owes one of its common names, rum cherry.