Virtues: Pawnee Buttes western sandcherry offers a unique growth habit, growing as a low, wide shrub that serves as a groundcover. It is highly ornamental with its heavy spring flowering and its bright fall foliage. Western sandcherry produces fruit that is edible to humans and valuable to wildlife. Pawnee Buttes was named Shrub of the Year in 2017 by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.
Common name: Pawnee Buttes western sandcherry
Botanical name: Prunus besseyi Pawnee Buttes or ‘PO11S’
Exposure: Full sun.
Season: Spring for flowers; fall for bright foliage.
Flowers/fruit: Fragrant white flowers appear in profusion in late spring. These give way to dark cherries that are sour in flavor. They can be used in pies and jellies or left on the shrub for birds and other wildlife.
Foliage: The leaves are very glossy. In spring and summer they are silvery green. They turn mahogany red in the fall before dropping away.
Habit: This is a low, shrubby deciduous groundcover growing 12 to 18 inches high and 4 to 6 feet wide.
Origins: This unique selection of sandcherry was discovered in Colorado’s Pawnee Buttes, a stark but beautiful place with extreme growing conditions. It was introduced to the market in 2000 by Plant Select.
How to grow western sandcherry: Site it in full sun and lean soils with excellent drainage. Pawnee Buttes sandcherry is extremely drought tolerant once it is established. USDA Zones 4–8.
Image courtesy of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.