Prunus Sp. - Cherry

Family: Rosaceae (Rose family)

Local Species;


Prunus avium - Sweet Cherry

"This is an introduced small deciduous species of tree that is found infrequently in southern BC." [E-flora]

Habitat/Range: "IN places from New England west to Ohio and Kentucky, the cultivated Sweet Cherry, a native of Europe, has escaped to waste lands, thickets, and fence rows. Occasionally it is found in deep woods." [EWP] " Mesic to moist forest edges and fields in the lowland zone; infrequent in S BC; introduced from Eurasia.” [IFBC-E-flora]

General: "Tree, 5-25 m tall, mostly smooth throughout; bark reddish-brown, peeling in horizontal strips, with prominent horizontal lenticels. [IFBC-E-flora]

Edible Uses

Medicinal Use
"WILD CHERRY (Prunus avium) There were genuine attempts at medicinal usage, though. “The distilled water of Cherries”, according to Gerard, “is good for those that are troubled with heate and inflammation in their stomackes, and prevaileth against the falling sicknesse given mixed with wine”. He also noted that “the gum of the Cherry tree taken with wine and water, is reported to helpe the stone …”, something on which Lupton had already reported. Cherry gum dissolved on wine was a remedy for coughs and colds (Earwood). Wild Cherry seems to maintain normal uric acid levels in people suffering from gout, and was much used for the purpose before synthetic treatment was available (Lewis & Elvin-Lewis)."[DPL Watts]

Propagation
"Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame[11, 200]. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame[200]. Division of suckers in the dormant season[98]. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. Layering in spring."[PFAF]

Cultivation
"The main problems with growing this species against a wall are firstly that it is usually completely self-sterile and so there needs to be space for at least two different cultivars[186], secondly it is very vigorous and so is difficult to keep within bounds[219]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[238]. An excellent tree for insects[24] and the fruit is a good food source for birds. A bad companion for potatoes, making them more susceptible to potato blight[201], it also suppresses the growth of wheat[18]. It also grows badly with plum trees, its roots giving out an antagonistic secretion[201]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200]." [PFAF]


Bitter Cherry - Prunus emarginata

General: "Shrub or small tree, 2-15 m tall, sometimes thicket-forming, smooth to densely hairy throughout; bark reddish-brown or grey, with horizontal lenticels." [IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat & Range
"Moist open forests, thickets, rocky slopes and streambanks in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; common in southwestern BC, disjunct in WC BC, infrequent in S BC east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; S to CA and E to MT, WY and AZ. [IFBC-E-flora]

Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

"Bitter cherry was employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints[257]. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism." [PFAF]

Bark

Cultivation

"Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil[11, 200]. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present[1]. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position[11, 200]. This species is unable to tolerate much shade competition from other trees[229]. A fast-growing but short-lived species in the wild[229]. The flowers diffuse a soft honey scent[245]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[238]." [PFAF]

Propagation

"Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/Auguset in a frame[11, 200]. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame[200]. Layering in spring."[PFAF]


Prunus laurocerasus - Cherry-laurel

"Cherry laurel is a medium to tall evergreen ornamental shrub species in the Rose Family that is widely used in our region as a hedge species. It has escaped and naturalized in North America in British Columbia, Oregon, Washington and California (USDA 2011). In British Columbia, it is reported in the southwestern corner of the province. It is considered invasive here, and readily seeds outside of the garden. This is a spring flowering species that produces a raceme of white flowers." [E-flora]

General: "Medium to tall shrub, occasionally a small tree, 2-6 m tall; twigs green, smooth." [IFBC-E-flora]
Habitat/Range: “Mesic to moist open forests, forest edges, clearings and disturbed sites in the lowland zone; rare in SW BC; introduced from Eurasia.” [IFBC-E-flora]

Hazards: "Overdoses of Cherry Laurel water prepared from the drug can lead to fatal poisonings. Ingestion of the leathery leaves and the seeds is improbable; the fruit pulp is low in cyanogenic glycosides (yielding 5-20 mg HCN/lOO gm). The recommended antidotes include the injection of solutions of Dicobalt-EDTA or thiosulfates, or the administration of methemoglobin-forming agents, e.g., amyl nitrite, 4-dimethyl aminophenol. The inducement of vomiting or gastric lavage should be done in parallel fashion. Circulatory support and artificial respiration may also be required." [PDR] “...Overdoses can cause cyanide poisoning." [HMH Duke]

Medicinal Use

Other Notes

"CHERRY LAUREL (Prunus laurocerasus) ... it is highly poisonous. As early as 1731, Madden of Dublin drew the attention of the Royal Society to some cases of poisoning that had occurred by the use of a distilled water of the leaves. This water had been used in Ireland for flavouring puddings and creams, and also as an addition to brandy. This is actually hydrocyanic, that is, prussic acid! O P Brown recommended the leaves as “an excellent sedative”, and in fact a tincture made from the leaves is still in use in homeopathy as a sedative (Schauenberg & Paris)." [DPL Watts]

Pharmacology

  • Analgesic (f; CRC; FEL);
  • Antiirritant (f; PHR; PH2);
  • Antispasmodic (f; CRC; EFS; PHR);
  • Antitussive (f; CRC; PNC);
  • Cardiodepressant (1; MAD);
  • Cyanogenic (1; CRC);
  • Gastrotonic (f; PHR; PH2);
  • Narcotic (1; CRC; EFS);
  • Poison (f; CRC; EFS);
  • Respirastimulant (1; PHR; PH2);
  • Sedative (f; CRC; PHR; PH2);
  • Stomachic (f; PNC);
  • Tonic (f; CRC; EFS) [HMH Duke]

Select Indications

  • Cancer (f; CRC; JLH);
  • Cancer, uterus (f; JLH);
  • Cold (f; PHR; PH2);
  • Cough (f; CRC; MAD; PHR; PH2; PNC);
  • Cramp (1; CRC; EFS; PHR; PH2);
  • Cyanosis (f; CRC; HHB; PH2);
  • Insomnia (f; CRC; MAD; PHR; PH2);
  • Nausea (f; CRC; MAD; WOI);
  • Nervousness (f; CRC; PHR; PH2);
  • Pain (f; CRC; FEL);
  • Pertussis (f; CRC; MAD);
  • Tumor (f; CRC);. [HMH Duke]

Phytochemicals

Leaves: "Cyanogenic glycosides: prunasin (corresponding to 0.5- 2.5%, 50-21 0 mg HCN/100 gm)" [PDR]

Propagation

"The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate[113]. 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[11, 200]. Cuttings of mature wood, October in a sheltered north facing border outdoors[113]. Layering in spring."[PFAF]

Cultivation

"Requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil[1, 11]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Thrives in a loamy soil, doing well on limestone[11]. Prefers some chalk in the soil but it is apt to become chlorotic if too much is present, growing badly on shallow chalk[98, 200]. Extremely tolerant of shade, it succeeds in the dense shade of trees with almost no direct light and in their drip line[197, 200], though it fruits better in a more sunny position[200]. A very ornamental plant, there are many named varieties[200]. The cultivar 'Otto Luyken' is a low growing narrow-leafed form that flowers in spring and autumn. The tiny flowers are powerfully fragrant[245] but have a rather offensive odour[182]. This is a matter of opinion, some people find the smell sweet and delightful[K]. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants[11], it should be introduced with care since it often self-sows in woodlands and can prevent the successful regeneration of native trees by shading out the seedlings[208]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[238]. The flowers attract butterflies and moths[30]. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[88, 200]. Subject to bacterial canker which can kill large branches[124]. Trim (preferably with secateurs) in spring or late summer[200]. Old plants can be cut back hard into the old wood in spring and will soon recover[200]." [PFAF]


Prunus Mahaleb - Mahaleb cherry

"This is an introduced deciduous species of cherry tree that is found in south-central BC." [E-flora]

Habitat/Range: "Mesic to moist fields and waste places in the steppe zone; rare in SC BC; introduced from Europe." [IFBC-E-flora]

General: "Shrub to small tree, to 10 m tall; branches thin, hard, hairy when young then smooth; twigs green." [IFBC-E-flora]

Food Use:

Other Use

Medicinal Use

Cultivation
“Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil[11, 200], growing best in a poor soil[1, 11]. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present[1]. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position[11, 200].” [PFAF]

Propagation
“Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame[11, 200]. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame[200]. Layering in spring.” [PFAF]


Prunus spinosa - Sloe

General: "Medium to tall shrub, 1-4 m tall, much-branched, very thorny with spine-tipped spur shoots, sometimes suckering to form dense thickets; twigs blackish, sometimes hairy when young." [IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat / Range: Dry to moist thickets, gullies and waste places in the lowland zone; rare in SW BC; introduced from Europe. [IFBC-E-flora]

Food Use

Other Use

Medicinal Use

Dosages (Sloe) — 2–4 g fruit (KOM; PH2); 1–2 g flower or fruit, or 1–2 tsp as a tea, to 2 ×/day (AHP); 2 tsp flower (= 2 g) in cold or hot tea (MAD). [HMH Duke]

Activities (Sloe) — Antipyretic (f; EFS); Astringent (1; EFS; PHR; PH2); Cardiotonic (f; MAD); Depurative (f; EFS; MAD); Diaphoretic (f; HHB); Diuretic (f; MAD; HHB; PHR; PH2); Emmenagogue (f; EFS); Hemostat (f; EFS); Laxative (f; EFS; HHB; PHR; PH2); Vermifuge (f; EFS; HHB; MAD). [HMH Duke]

Flowers:

Fruit

Folk Uses

Cultivation
"Requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil[11]. Succeeds in all soils except very acid peats[186]. Succeeds in light shade but fruits better in a sunny position[11, 200]. Thrives in a loamy soil, doing well on limestone[11]. Prefers some chalk in the soil but apt to become chlorotic if too much is present[1]. Thrives on chalk according to another report[182]. Plants are very resistant to maritime exposure[186]. An important food plant for the caterpillars of several species of butterfly[30], especially the larvae of the brown and black hairstreak butterflies[186]. A good bee plant. Plants are shallow-rooted and of a suckering habit, they can form dense impenetrable thickets which are ideal for nesting birds, especially nightingales[186]. Flowers are often damaged by late frosts[186]. Plants regenerate quickly after cutting or after fast moving forest fires, producing suckers from below ground level[186]. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[88, 200]." [PFAF]

Propagation
"Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame[11, 200]. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Layering in spring. Division of suckers during the dormant season. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions." [PFAF]


Prunus virginiana - Western Choke Cherry

Similar Species
"This shrub or small tree is most easily distinguished distinguished from bitter cherry by its flowers and fruits, which occur in elongate clusters of more than 10 (vs. 5-10 in Prunus emarginata; its fruits are usually darker, to purple or even black. It grows on forest edges and in clearings, from the Strait of Georgia-Puget Sound area south to California." [PCBC2004]

Habitat / Range
"Dry to mesic forest edges, open forests, thickets, bluffs, grassy rocky slopes, river terraces, gullies, draws and streambanks in grasslands, and clearings in the lowland and montane zones; common in S BC, especially east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, infrequent northward; E to NF and S to NC, TX and CA." [IFBC-E-flora]

Ecological Indicator Information
"A shade-intolerant. submontane to subalpine. transcontinental North American deciduous shrub. Occurs in continental cool temperate and cool semiarid climates on moderately dry to fresh. nitrogen­rich (occasionally weakly alkaline) soils (Moder and Mull humus forms). Its occurrence increases with increasing temperature and continentality. and decreases with increasing precipitation and latitude. Occasional in immature broad­leaf forests on water-shedding sites on leeward Vancouver Island and in the coast -interior ecotone. A nitrophytic species characteristic of young-seral, continental forests." [IPBC][E-flora]

Hazards

Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

"Chokecherry was widely employed medicinally by many native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints, valuing it especially for its astringency and beneficial effect upon the respiratory system[257]. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism." [PFAF]

Lore
"CHOKE CHERRY (Prunus virginiana) An American species that is cultivated in Mexico and central America. The cherry is small, black and bitter (hence Choke Cherry, presumably). Birds often get drunk eating them. However, the cherries are quite useful – country people infuse them in brandy as a flavouring (Lloyd), and native Americans used them as food; the Ojibwe used to pound them, stones and all, and dried them to store as food (Densmore)." [DPL Watts]

Actions
"The bark is slightly narcotic, making the user a little drowsy, and its sedative qualities gave it quite a reputation in America, in dyspepsia and tuberculosis (Lloyd)." [DPL Watts]

Propagation
"The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate[113]. 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[11, 200]. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame[200]. Layering in spring. Division of suckers during the dormant season. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions." [PFAF]

Cultivation
"Requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil[11]. Requires a sunny position[11]. Thrives in a loamy soil, doing well on limestone[11]. Prefers some chalk in the soil but apt to become chlorotic if too much is present[1]. A fast-growing but short-lived tree in the wild[229], it has a tendency to form thickets of considerable extent from root sprouts[227]. Sometimes cultivated for its edible fruit, and sold in local markets[46], there are a number of named varieties some of which have much less astringent fruit[183]. The fruit is not very freely borne in Britain[11], though good crops are borne almost annually in the wild[227]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[238]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200]." [PFAF]
" The plant forms thickets by means of suckers from its extensive root system and can be planted for erosion control[149]. It is a pioneer species of abandoned fields and cut-over lands[229]." [PFAF].


Prunus X pugetensis - Hybrid cherry

"This is a small deciduous species of cherry tree that is found in BC, Washington and Oregon (Jacobson and Zika 2007). It is a hybrid between Prunus avium and Prunus emarginata, and was first described for the Pacific Northwest by Arthur Lee Jacobson and Peter F. Zika. They describe it as follows: "It is intermediate in morphology, differing from P. avium in its pubescence, more slender leaves, smaller flowers, and peduncled inflorescences. It can be separated from P. emarginata by its broader leaves with coarser teeth, larger flowers with weakly notched petals, and occasional umbellate inflorescences." (Jacobson and Zika 2007)." [E-flora]


References