Prunus padus

Botanical Name:Prunus padus
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Prunoideae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Padus
Species: P. padus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms : Padus racemosa – Lam.

Common Names; Bird Cherry or Hackberry

Habitat :Prunus padus is native to northern Europe including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to Spain, Siberia and the Himalayas. It also  grows north of the Arctic Circle in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. It is found by streams and in moist open woods, usually on alkaline soils but also found on acid soils in upland areas

Description:
Prunus padus is a deciduous small tree or large shrub, 20 to 40 feet tall  and Spread: 20 to 40 feet . It is the type species of the subgenus Padus, which have flowers in racemes.

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It is hardy to zone 3. It is in white  flower in May.   And the seeds ripen from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Flies, bees. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation :
Succeeds in any soil, preferring a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position. Very hardy but it does not like exposure to strong winds. A very hardy tree, tolerating temperatures down to about -30°c. A very ornamental species, there are some named varieties. The sub-species P. padus borealis is found in Scandinavia and the mountains of C. Europe. It is a shrub growing only to about 3 metres high. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged. Trees usually produce lots of suckers and will soon regenerate by this method if the main trunk is cut down. This tree is a host for cereal virus vector[98]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus. Trees only cast a light shade and do not themselves thrive in heavy shade. The fruits are relished by birds and the flowers and leaves attract many insects.

Propagation:
Seed – requires 2 – 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood, October/November in a frame. Suckers removed in late winter. Layering in spring.

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Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Flowers; Fruit; Leaves; Seed.

Edible Uses: Tea.

Fruit – raw or cooked. The fruit usually has a bitter taste and is used mainly for making jam and preserves. The fruit is about the size of a pea and contains one large seed. Flowers – chewed. Young leaves – cooked. Used as a boiled vegetable in Korea. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes  below on toxicity. A tea is made from the bark.

Medicinal Uses:
Anodyne; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Sedative.

The bark from young twigs is the medicinally active part.The bark is mildly anodyne, diuretic, febrifuge and sedative. An infusion is used in the treatment of colds, feverish conditions,rheumatic and arthritic pain etc. The bark is harvested when the tree is in flower and can be dried for later use. Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.
It is also used in homeopathy

Other Uses
Dye; Wood.

A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit. Wood – hard, heavy, durable, easy to work, polishes well. It is much valued by cabinet makers.

Known Hazards : The seed and leaves contain hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is readily detected by its bitter taste. Usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm, any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_padus
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Prunus+padus
http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/plant-finder/plant-details/kc/g980/prunus-padus.aspx
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

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