Western North America, B.C. to Baja, East to Wyoming and New Mexico.
"Bitter cherry is a valuable forage species for mule deer, elk, and black bear. In the Pacific Northwest and California bitter cherry is highly preferred winter forage for Columbian black-tailed deer . In the Southwest bitter cherry is browsed by deer and elk .
Throughout its range, bitter cherry fruits are eaten by birds, rodents, and small mammals. In Washington bitter cherry is eaten by slugs. In the Sierra Nevada bitter cherry is utilized by mountain beaver.
Dense thickets of bitter cherry provide important cover for wildlife . In Idaho bitter cherry provides important escape cover and roosting sites for Columbian sharp-tailed grouse." 
"Indians of British Columbia and Washington used bitter cherry medicinally and for making tools. Fruits were used as laxatives, and the roots and inner bark were boiled and ingested to prevent heart trouble. The bark of bitter cherry peels off in long fibrous strips which were used to make baskets and other implements.
Bitter cherry is planted as an ornamental. Cultivated plants are usually Prunus emarginata var. mollis." 
"Bitter cherry is highly palatable to sheep. It is a preferred sheep food in Oregon. Bitter cherry is also eaten by cattle.
Bitter cherry adapts well to disturbed or degraded sites . It is used for land reclamation and erosion control . Nursery-grown stock readily establishes on disturbed sites and once established, bitter cherry is a good soil stabilizer .
In California and Nevada bitter cherry is used for rehabilitating acid mine spoils. At the Leviathan Mine in California, planted bitter cherry had a 90 percent survival rate on sites not seeded with grasses after 1 year. By the second year, grasses had established and bitter cherry survival dropped to 60 percent of the original planting." 
 Esser, Lora L. 1995. Prunus emarginata. In: Fire Effects Information System,. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/pruema/all.html.