Botanical Name : Prunus besseyi
Species: P. pumila
Synonyms: Prunus pumila besseyi. (Bailey.)Gleason.
Common Names: Western Sand Cherry
Habitat : Prunus besseyi is native to Central N. America – Manitoba and Minnesota to Kansas and Utah. It grows on sandy hills, open plains, rocky slopes or shores.
Prunus besseyi is a deciduous Shrub growing to 1.2 m (4ft) at a medium rate.
It is in flower in May. Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Rounded.
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 and can tolerate drought.
Landscape Uses:Specimen. Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, doing 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. Established plants are drought resistant. A very hardy plant, probably tolerating temperatures down to about -50°c when it is fully dormant. It is cultivated for its edible fruit in warmer climes than Britain, there are some named varieties. It flowers very well in this country but does not usually produce much fruit. Another report says that it sometimes fruits abundantly in Britain. The cultivar ‘Black Beauty’ crops well and has small black sweet fruits. ‘Hansens’ has large fruits with a good flavour. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged. Plants are inclined to sucker and can produce dense thickets. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus. Special Features:Attracts birds, North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Fragrant flowers, 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. Division of suckers in the dormant season. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. Layering in spring.
Edible Parts: Fruit; Seed.Edible Uses:
Fruit – raw or cooked. A sweetish flavour, the fruit can also be dried for later use. It makes a rather astringent but tasty jelly.The fruit is a reasonable size, up to 18mm 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. The plant can be used as a rootstock for plums. It produces mostly dwarf trees that are poorly anchored. Prone to severe suckering. Compatible with most prunes, it is incompatible with damsons and Victoria plums. Resistant to ‘Crown Gall’. Trees on this rootstock are productive and very cold hardy. Cuttings are often easy to root but seedlings vary widely
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.