Wild Black Cherry – Prunus serotina

Wild Black Cherry
Wild Black Cherry

Wild cherry bark was once used by women of the Cherokee tribe during childbirth. It reduced the pain from contractions. It was also used to treat upper respiratory problems, diarrhea, and even hemorrhoids. It became more widely used when Europeans caught on to its properties in the 1800s. It was once an important part of most cough syrups. Now it is used to treat upper respiratory problems and some digestive problems.

The fruit is edible and used to make wines and jellies. They have also been used to flavor rum and Brandy. The fruit is also a valuable food for many birds and mammals, who eat the fruit and drop the seed in their excrement to disperse them. Some rodents will actually crack open the pit and eat the seed within.

The gum exudate from the broken bark can be chewed just like gum. The wood is oft used for making cabinets and musical instruments. A green dye is also made from the plant.

The wilted leaves are toxic to horses and cattle. The pits contain cyanogenic glycosides and can cause shortness of breath, severe indigestion, even respiratory failure, and even death! Do not bite down on the pit, it is perfectly safe until you do….just spit out the pit!

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by comfreycottages on December 4, 2010 at 8:20 am

    How did you know I was planning to go pay homage to this tree today. I want to where we have an out apiary, to check the hives, and then a short ways a way, there is a beautiful spot on the woods edge with so many wild black cherry trees! I want to see them in their winter bones, standing in the snow:) thank you for sharing this. very wonderful:)


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