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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Sand Cherry - Prunus pumila

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S1S3
(see State Rank Reason below)
State Threat Score: Unknown

Agency Status


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
The sole known extant location in Montana occurs along a county road and is susceptible to road construction and maintenance activities. A 1960 collection with vague locational data has not been relocated but it apparently occurred in native habitat.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Sand Cherry (Prunus pumila) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 11/06/2012
    View State Conservation Rank Criteria
    Population Size

    Score3 - Vey Small: Generally <2,000 individuals.

    Range Extent

    Score1 - Peripheral, Disjunct or Sporadic Distribution in MT: Widespread species that is peripheral, disjunct or sporadically distributed within MT such that it occurs in <5% of the state (<7,500 sq. miles or the combined area of Beaverhead and Ravalli Counties) or is restricted to 4-5 sub-basins.

    Area of Occupancy

    Score3 - Very Low: Generally occurring in 3 or fewer Subwatersheds (6th Code HUC’s).

    Environmental Specificity

    Score1 - Moderate: Species is restricted to a specific habitat that is more widely distributed or to several restricted habitats and is typically dependent upon relatively unaltered, good-quality habitat (C Values of 5-7).


    Score0-3 - Population trends are unknown.


    Score1-3 - Medium to Very High. Threats exist, but severity, scope and/or immediacy are uncertain.

    CommentPopulation near rodside and may be susceptible to negative impacts.

    Intrinsic Vulnerability

    Score0-1 - Low to Moderate Vulnerability.

    Raw Conservation Status Score

    Score 9 to 15 total points scored out of a possible 19.

General Description
Sand Cherry is a low shrub with prostrate to ascending branches that are 1-4 dm tall. The alternate, narrowly elliptic leaves are 4-7 cm long, have petioles, and are 5-14 mm long with entire to toothed margins. The twigs are red but become gray with age, and the leaves are dark green and glabrous above but paler below. Clusters of 2-4 flowers occur in the axils of the expanding leaves. Each flower has a bowl-shaped, 5-lobed calyx that is 2-4 mm high and which holds the ovary and 25-30 stamens. The 5 separate, white petals are 6-8 mm long. The globose cherry is dark purple and 13-15 mm long.

Mature fruit in June.

Diagnostic Characteristics
The low, often nearly prostrate growth form is distinctive.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
MT, SK, and MN, south to CO and KS. Peripheral.

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 2

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Sandy or rocky open soils in grasslands on the plains.
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species

The following animal species have been reported as pollinators of this plant species or its genus where their geographic ranges overlap: Bombus vagans, Bombus bifarius, Bombus huntii, Bombus mixtus, Bombus ternarius, Bombus terricola, Bombus occidentalis, Bombus pensylvanicus, Bombus bimaculatus, Bombus griseocollis, and Bombus impatiens (Macior 1968, Heinrich 1976, Thorp et al. 1983, Colla and Dumesh 2010, Williams et al. 2014).

Threats or Limiting Factors
Reported threats to Montana's populations of Sand Cherry (Prunus pumila) are currently assigned as unknown. Potential threats due to road construction and maintenance need to be substantiated before a threat rank can be assigned (MTNHP Threat Assessment 2021).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Colla, S.R. and S. Dumesh. 2010. The bumble bees of southern Ontario: notes on natural history and distribution. Journal of the Entomological Society of Ontario 141:39-68.
    • Macior, L.M. 1968. Bombus (Hymenoptera, Apidae) queen foraging in relation to vernal pollination in Wisconsin. Ecology 49:20-25.
    • Thorp, R.W., D.S. Horning, and L.L. Dunning. 1983. Bumble bees and cuckoo bumble bees of California (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Bulletin of the California Insect Survey 23:1-79.
    • Williams, P., R. Thorp, L. Richardson, and S. Colla. 2014. Bumble Bees of North America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 208 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Sand Cherry — Prunus pumila.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from