Botanical Name: Prunus serotina/Prunus salicifolia
Subgenus: Prunus subg. Padus
Species: P. serotina
*Cerasus serotina (Ehrh.) Loisel.
*Padus serotina (Ehrh.) Borkh.
*Padus serotina (Ehrh.) J.Agardh.
*Prunus capuli Cav.
*Cerasus capollin DC. ex Ser.
*Cerasus capollini DC.
*Cerasus capuli (Cav. ex Spreng.) Ser
Capuli Cherry, Capulin Cherry, Capulin, Capuli, Tropic Cherry. Black cherry, Wild black cherry, Rum cherry, or Mountain black cherry
is a deciduous tree or shrub belonging to the genus Prunus. The species is widespread and common in North America and South America
Habitat:Native to the highlands of Mexico and Western Guatemala.
Capuli Cherry is a medium-sized, fast-growing forest tree growing to a height of 50–80 ft (15–24 m). Leaves are 2–5 in (5–13 cm) long, ovate-lanceolate in shape, with finely toothed margins. Fall leaf color is yellow to red. Flowers are small, white and 5-petalled, in racemes 4–6 in (10–15 cm) long which contain several dozen flowers. The flowers give rise to edible reddish-black “berries” (drupes), 5–10 mm (1?4–3?8 in) in diameter.
A mature black cherry tree can easily be identified in a forest by its very broken, dark grey to black bark, which has the appearance of very thick, burnt cornflakes. However, for about the first decade or so of its life, the bark is thin, smooth, and banded, resembling that of a birch. It can also quickly be identified by its long, shiny leaves resembling those of a sourwood, and by an almond-like odor released when a young twig is scratched and held close to the nose.
Capulin cherries are quite attractive, both when in bloom with dangling racemes covered with masses of flowers and after fruit set when the racemes are thick with green, light red or deep red ripening fruit.
This species is closely related to Prunus serotina, but it has larger edible fruits.
Flowers, borne in slender, pendent racemes with 1 or more leaves at the base, are about 3/4 in (2 cm) wide with white petals and a conspicuous tuft of yellow stamens. 1
Capulin Cherry trees are related to Northern Cherry trees, such as Bing Cherries. Unlike their relatives, Capulins have a dormancy period that is triggered by day length rather than by cold temperatures and therefore do not need cold winter weather to regulate their yearly flowering and fruiting cycle.
The aromatic fruit is round, 3/8 to 3/4 in (1-2 cm) wide, with red or nearly black, rarely white or yellowish, smooth, thin, tender skin and pale-green, juicy pulp of sweet or acid, agreeable, but slightly astringent flavor. There is a single stone with a bitter kernel. 1
As many as 15 or 20 fruits sometimes develop on a raceme, but half or more fall before reaching maturity. 2
The trees will produce fruit 2 to 3 years after planting, and under the right conditions will set more than one crop per season. For reasons unknown trees with gray bark seem to produce larger fruit than those with darker bark. 2
The ripe fruits are eaten raw or stewed; also are preserved whole or made into jam. In Mexico they are used as filling for special tamales. With skin and seeds removed, they are mixed with milk and served with vanilla and cinnamon as dessert. Sometimes the fruits are fermented to make an alcoholic beverage
Known as capolcuahuitl in Nahuatl (the source of the capuli epithet), it was an important food in pre-Columbian Mexico. Native Americans ate the berries.
A sirup made of the fruits is taken to alleviate respiratory troubles. The leaf decoction is given as a febrifuge and to halt diarrhea and dysentery; also applied in poultices to relieve inflammation. A leaf infusion is prescribed in Yucatan as a sedative in colic and neuralgia and as an antispasmodic. The pounded bark is employed in an eyewash. 1
The sapwood is yellow with touches of red. The heartwood is reddish-brown, fine-grained, very hard, strong, durable. It is used for furniture, interior paneling, cabinets, turnery and general carpentry. Old roots are valued for carving tobacco pipes, figurines, et cetera. 1
After 6-8 years it yields an excellent reddish lumber for guitars, furniture, coffins and other premium products. The wood is hard, is resistant to insect and fungus damage, and sells at high prices.
The wood of Prunus serotina is also used as a spice in foods, as it imparts a unique flavor.
Prunus serotina timber is valuable; perhaps the premier cabinetry timber of the U.S., traded as “cherry”. High quality cherry timber is known for its strong orange hues and high price. Low-quality wood, as well as the sap wood, can be more tan. Its density when dried is around 580 kg/m3 (36 lb/cu ft).
Prunus serotina trees are sometimes planted as ornamentals.
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