Herbs & Plants

Prunus arabica

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Botanical Name: Prunus arabica
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Amygdaloideae
Tribes: Amygdaleae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: P. subg. Amygdalus
Species: Prunus arabica

Synonyms: Amygdalus arabica Oliv.; A. spartioides Spach; Prunus spartioides (Spach) Schneid.

Common Name:

Habitat :Prunus arabica is native to W. Asia – Iran. It grows on the dry steppe and open oak woodland.

Prunus arabica an unarmed deciduous shrub of broom-like habit 3 to 6 ft high, with green, glabrous, angled branches, leafless in the hot season. Leaves linear-lanceolate, up to 15?8 in. long, 1?8 to 3?16 in. wide, shortly stalked. It is in flower in May.


Flowers solitary, sessile, borne in spring, each from a bud with numerous brown imbricating scales, 1?2 to 3?4 in. wide, white or pinkish; receptacle partly concealed by the bud-scales, broad campanulate, glabrous or almost so. Ovary densely hairy. Fruits ovoid, slightly flattened, about 1 in. long; stone smooth.

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 dry or 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. Judging by its native habitat this plant should succeed in dry soils. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged. 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 Uses:
Edible Parts: Fruit; Seed.

Fruit – raw or cooked. The fruit contains a single large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes below on toxicity.
Medicinal Uses:
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.

Other Uses:...Dye; Gum……A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit. A gum obtained from the plant is sold in local markets. It is probably obtained from the trunk and branches.

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.


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