Synonyms : Cerasus japonica – (Thunb.)Loisel.
Common Names : Korean cherry, Flowering almond or Oriental bush cherry,
Habitat : Prunus japonica is native range extends from Central China through to the Korean peninsula. P. maximowiczii, the Miyama cherry is also often referred to as Korean cherry.Found in woodlands in mountain valleys. Forest on mountain slopes, thickets and sunny mountain slopes at elevations of 100 – 200 metres.
The plant thrives on well-drained and moist loamy soil and prefers little shade or no shade at all. The plant prefers some lime in the soil but not too much. It is mostly found at woodlands or sunny places.
The shrub reaches 1.5 m by 1.5 m. Its flowers are hermaphrodite and are pollinated by insects. The plant blossoms in May. Its fruit reaches about 14 mm and has an agreeably sweet flavor, therefore it is used in making pies, but its taste is quite sour, reminiscent of that of Sour cherry.
Every fruit has one seed. The plant usually grows from seed but can also be multiplied by cutting for layering.
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.
Thrives in 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. Plants are hardy to at least -15°c. A very ornamental plant, but it is subject to die-back. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus. The Korean cherry is sometimes cultivated for its edible fruit, there is at least one named variety. The sub-species P. japonica nakai. (Lév.)Rehd., which comes from Manchuria, has larger plum-like fruits up to 50mm in diameter. This species is closely related to P. glandulosa. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged.
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. Layering in spring.
Medical interestAlthough this is not yet scientifically established, the species is thought[by whom?] to contain amygdalin and prunasin, as is the case at all the other members of the genus Prunus. These chemical compounds break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid, an extremely poisonous substance that when taken in very small amount can stimulate respiration and improve digestion.
The kernel of Prunus japonica is highly versatile: it is deobstruent, aperient, demulcent, carminative, diuretic, laxative, hypotensive, ophthalmic and lenitive. It can also be prescribed for internal use in treating dry constipation, oedema or post-traumatic insomnia. Other part of the plant is also used, but more rarely. For instance, the root acts against constipation, child fever, pinworms and teeth problems
Other uses: The leaves of this plant procure a green dye, while the fruit procures a greenish to grayish dye.
Known Hazards: Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but 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.