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Botanical Name: Prunus cerasifera divaricata
Species: Prunus cerasifera divaricata
Synonyms: Prunus divaricata. Ledeb
Habitat: Prunus cerasifera divaricata is native to South east Europe to W. Asia. It grows on the mountain slopes in woody or shrubby thickets, on stony slopes, ravine bottoms, near water and montane river valleys to 2000 metres.
Prunus cerasifera divaricata is a deciduous Tree growing to 10 m (32ft 10in). It is in flower from Apr to May. 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, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil. Succeeds in light shade but fruits better in a sunny position. Thrives in a loamy soil, doing well on limestone. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers some chalk in the soil but apt to become chlorotic if too much is present. Plants are hardy to about -25°c. According to some botanists this plant should be named P. divaricata and P. cerasifera should be named P. divaricata cerasifera. 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.
Fruit – raw or cooked. Tastes like a Mirabelle plum. A very pleasant plum-like flavour when fully ripe with a mealy though juicy flesh[K]. It is high in citric acid, containing about 4.7%. The fruit is about 30mm in diameter and contains one large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes below 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.
Used as a rootstock for plums, peaches and apricots. A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit
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.