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Botanical Name: Prunus alleghaniensis
Species: P. alleghaniensis
Common Name: Allegheny plum,Davis’ plum
Habitat : Prunus alleghaniensis is native to the Appalachian Mountains from New York to Kentucky and North Carolina, plus the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. There are old reports of it growing also in New Jersey and Connecticut, but it now appears to have been extirpated in those two states.
It is not common in moist woodlands. It is typically found in elevations between 1200 and 2000 feet (360-600 meters).
Prunus alleghaniensis is a shrub or small tree 3-12 feet (90-360 cm) tall. The leaves of are two to three and a half inches (5.0-8.8 cm) long, the tip is usually long and pointed. The leaf margins are finely toothed. The twigs sometimes have thorns. The bark is fissured in older specimens. The flowers are plentiful and white, eventually turning pink. The dark reddish purple fruit is half an inch (13 mm) wide, with a whitish bloom.
It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen in August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, growing well on limestone. 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. A fast-growing but short-lived tree in the wild. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged. This species is closely related to P. americana. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.
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.
Edible Parts: Fruit; Seed.
Fruit – raw or cooked. The thick juicy flesh is pleasantly acid. The fruit can also be made into jams, preserves etc. The fruit has a tough skin, it can be up to 2cm in diameter and contains one large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes above on toxicity.
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.
A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit. Wood – hard, heavy, close grained. Trees are too small for the wood to be commercially valuable.
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 supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.