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Botanical Name : Prunus cerasoides
Species: P. cerasoides
*Prunus majestica Koehne
*Prunus puddum Franch.
Common Names: Wild Himalayan cherry or Sour cherry
Habitat : Prunus cerasoides is native to E. Asia – Himalayas from Himachel Pradesh to S.W. China and Burma. It grows in the forests, 1200 – 2400 metres. Forests in ravines at elevations of 700 – 3700 metres in western China.
Prunus cerasoides is a deciduous Tree growing to 30 m (98ft 5in). It has glossy, ringed bark. When the tree is not in flower, it is characterised by glossy, ringed bark and long, dentate stipules.
The tree flowers in autumn and winter. Flowers are pinkish white in color. It has ovoid yellow fruit that turns red as it ripens.
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. Requires an open sunny sheltered position. Not very hardy in Britain but it succeeds outdoors in the milder areas of the country. 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.
Edible Parts: Fruit; Seed.
Fruit – raw or cooked. Acid and astringent, they are only occasionally eaten raw but are more often cooked. The fruit is about 15mm in diameter and contains one large seed. Gum – chewed. Obtained from the trunk, it can be employed as a substitute for gum tragacanth, see Astragalus spp. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes below on toxicity.
The fruit is astringent. The juice of the bark is applied externally to treat backaches. 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.
Beads; Dye; Gum; Wood.
A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit. The seeds are used as beads in necklaces and rosaries. Wood – moderately hard, strong, durable, aromatic. The branches are used as walking sticks
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.