Herbs & Plants

Prunus serotina

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Botanical Name :Prunus serotina
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Padus
Species: P. serotina
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Common Name : Black cherry, Wild black cherry, Rum cherry, or Mountain black cherry, Black Cherry, Chokecherry

Habitat : Prunus serotina is native to eastern North America: from eastern Canada through southern Quebec and Ontario.

Prunus serotina  is a species in the subgenus Padus and is a deciduous tree growing to 15–30 metres (49–98 ft)Template:Convert/track/adj/ tall with a trunk diameter of up to 70–120 centimetres (28–47 in)Template:Convert/track/adj/, occasionally more, with flowers in racemes. The leaves are simple, 6–14 centimetres (2.4–5.5 in)Template:Convert/track/adj/ long, with a serrated margin. The flowers are small (10–15 millimetres (0.39–0.59 in)Template:Convert/track/adj/ diameter), with five white petals and about 20 stamens, and are fragrant; there are around 40 flowers on each raceme. The species epithet, serotina, means “late,”[4] and refers to the tree flowering later in the season than many other cherry species. The fruit is a drupe, 1 centimetre (0.39 in)Template:Convert/track/adj/ in diameter, green to red at first, ripening to black; it is usually astringent and bitter when eaten fresh, but also somewhat sweet. The fruit is readily eaten by birds

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A mature black cherry 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 (an easy way to remember this is Burnt Cornflakes = Black Cherry). However, for about the first decade or so of its life, the bark resembles that of a birch, and is thin and striped. It can also quickly be identified by its long, shiny leaves resembling those of a sourwood, and by an almond-like odor when a young twig is scratched and held close to the nose

Edible Uses:
The fruit of Prunus serotina is suitable for making jam and cherry pies, and has some use in flavoring liqueurs; they are also a popular flavoring for sodas and ice creams. The black cherry is commonly used instead of sweet cherries (Prunus avium) to achieve a sharper taste. It is also used in cakes which include dark chocolate, such as a Black Forest gateau and as garnishes for cocktails.

Like apricots, the seeds of black cherries contain compounds that can be converted into cyanide, such as amygdalin. These compounds release hydrogen cyanide when the seed is ground or minced, which releases enzymes that break down the compounds. These enzymes include amygdalin beta-glucosidase, prunasin beta-glucosidase and mandelonitrile lyase. In contrast, although the flesh of cherries also contain these compounds, they do not contain the enzymes needed to produce cyanide, so the flesh is safe to eat.

The foliage, particularly when wilted, contains cyanogenic glycosides, which convert to hydrogen cyanide if eaten by animals. Farmers are recommended to remove any trees that fall in a field containing livestock, because the wilted leaves could poison the animals. Removal is not always practical, though, because they often grow in very large numbers on farms, taking advantage of the light brought about by mowing and grazing. Entire fencerows can be lined with this poisonous tree, making it difficult to monitor all the branches falling into the grazing area. Black cherry is a leading cause of livestock illness, and grazing animals’ access to it should be limited.

Constituents:  acetylcholine, hcn, kaempferol, p-coumaric acid, prunasin, quercetin, scopoletin, tannins

Medicinal Uses:
Used in
* Bronchitis * Colds * Congestion * Cough * Sleep/Insomnia

Properties: * Anodyne * Anti-inflammatory * Antiscrofulous * Astringent * Expectorant * Sedative

Prunus serotina is a very effective herbal cough remedy. The main use of the bark is to still irritated, nagging coughs. Wild black cherry is used in many commercial cough products such as Smith Brothers, Lunden’s and Vicks for the flavor as well as the decongestant and sedative properties.

Figuring in official pharmacopoeias and much used in the Anglo-American tradition, black cherry bark effectively counters chronic dry and irritable cough.  Due to its powerful sedative action on the cough reflex, Wild Cherry bark also finds its use in the treatment of bronchitis and whooping cough.  It can be used with other herbs in the control of asthma.  It must be remembered, however, that the inhibition of a cough does not equate with the healing of a chest infection, which will still need to be treated.  It may also be used as a bitter where digestion is sluggish.  It is an outstanding remedy for weakness of the stomach with irritation, such as ulcers, gastritis, colitis, diarrhea and dysentery.  It is helpful combined in digestive tonics with such herbs as licorice, ginseng, cyperus, anise and tangerine peel.  These herbs are macerated for two weeks to six months in rice wine.  They are then strained and the resulting tincture is taken in teaspoonful doses before meals.  The cold infusion of the bark may be helpful as a wash in cases of inflammation of the eyes.  The astringent bark also eases indigestion and the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, especially when these conditions are of nervous origin.  The medicinal properties of this plant are destroyed by boiling, so the plant should only be allowed to steep in warm water.  The root bark and the aromatic inner bark have expectorant and mild sedative properties and a tea made from either of them has been used to ease pain in the early stages of labor. The tea is also used in the treatment of fevers, colds, sore throats, diarrhea etc. A decoction of the inner bark has been used in the treatment of laryngitis.  The root bark has been used as a wash on old sores and ulcers.  The fruit has been used in the treatment of dysentery.

Other Uses:
The wood of P. serotina is also used for cooking and smoking foods, where it imparts a unique flavor.

P. serotina timber is valuable; perhaps the premier cabinetry timber of the U.S., traded as “cherry”. It is known for its strong red color and high price. Its density when dried is around 580 kg/m3 (980 lb/cu yd)Template:Convert/track/abbr/onTemplate:Convert/track/adj/.

P. serotina trees are sometimes planted ornamentally.

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