Herbs & Plants

Prunus campanulata

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Botanical Name : Prunus campanulata
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Cerasus
Species: P. campanulata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

*Cerasus campanulata (Maxim.) A.Vassiliev
*Prunus cerasoides Koidz.
*Prunus cerasoides var. campanulata (Maxim.) Koidz.
*Prunus pendula hort.

Common Names: Taiwan cherry, Formosan cherry, or Bellflower cherry.

Habitat : Prunus campanulata is native to Japan, Vietnam, and China (including Taiwan), widely grown as an ornamental tree, and a symbol of Nago, Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. It grows on the hill forests below 600 metres. Forests in ravines, forest margins at elevations of 100 – 1300 metres.

Prunus campanulata is a small, deciduous tree that grows up to 10m high. It has characteristic deep red, bell shaped clusters of flowers (up to 2.2cm diameter), which appear in late winter to early spring. Flowers often appear on the bare branches before the leave emerge. Leaves are serrated, typically cherry-like and are up to 4-7cm long and 2-3.5cm wide. These are a bright green colour when they emerge in spring, changing to dark green in summer and finally turning bronze during autumn. The fruit of P. campanulata is small (10 x 6mm), shiny and scarlet and are very popular with birds.

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. 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. This species is not very hardy in Britain, though it succeeds outdoors in the milder areas of the country. When fully dormant, it probably tolerates temperatures down to about -10 to -15°c. This species grows well in areas that are too warm for other species of flowering cherries. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged. A very ornamental plant, there are several named varieties. Closely related to P. cerasoides. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus. Special Features:Not North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Blooms are very showy.

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. A cherry, it is edible if the astringency is removed. The fruit is about 11mm 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.

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

A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit. Prunus campanulata is a popular ornamental tree for both private gardens and public areas.

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.