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Prunus cerasus - L.
                 
Common Name Sour Cherry
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness 3-7
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.
Habitats Hedges in S. England[17].
Range S.E. Europe to W. Asia. Naturalized in Britain.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary

Prunus cerasus Sour Cherry


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Prunus cerasus Sour Cherry
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Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of lolypop
Prunus cerasus is a deciduous Tree growing to 6 m (19ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Synonyms
Cerasus communis. C. vulgaris.

Habitats
Woodland Garden Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Fruit;  Oil;  Oil;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Gum;  Gum;  Oil;  Oil;  Tea.

Fruit - raw or cooked[1, 2, 5, 11, 12]. Pleasantly acid, the fruit can be eaten out of hand, used in pies, preserves etc or dried for later use[183]. The fruit is about 18mm in diameter and contains one large seed[200]. Seed - raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter - see the notes above on toxicity. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[46, 61]. When refined it is used as a salad oil[183]. The leaves are used as a tea substitute[46, 61, 183]. A gum obtained from the trunk is used for chewing[61, 64].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Astringent;  Bitter;  Febrifuge;  Nervine;  Salve.

The bark is astringent, bitter and febrifuge[240]. An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of fevers, coughs and colds[257]. The root bark has been used as a wash for old sores and ulcers[257]. The seed is nervine[240]. 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[238].
Other Uses
Adhesive;  Dye;  Gum;  Gum;  Hedge;  Hedge;  Oil;  Oil;  Wood.

An edible drying oil obtained from the seed is also used in cosmetics[61]. The gum obtained from the stem is also used as an adhesive[61, 64]. Plants can be grown as a hedge[50], succeeding in fairly exposed positions[K]. A green dye can be obtained from the leaves[168]. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit[168].
Cultivation details
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]. Prefers an acid soil according to another report[5]. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position[11, 200]. Plants are succeeding in a fairly exposed maritime position at Rosewarne in N. Cornwall[K]. Plants are hardy to about -20°c[184]. Long cultivated for its edible fruit, there are many named varieties[1, 50]. See separate entries for the various sub-species[K]. It is also a parent, with P. avium, of many cultivars of sweet cherries[1, 17]. Many cultivars will succeed on a north or east facing wall[219]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[238]. Plants produce suckers freely[184]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200].
Propagation
Seed - requires 2 - 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[200]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible[200]. Protect the seed from mice etc. 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[113]. 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.

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Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Prunus africanaPygeum05
Prunus alabamensisAlabama Cherry21
Prunus alleghaniensisAllegheny Plum, Davis' plum31
Prunus americanaAmerican Plum, American Wild Plum, Wild Plum32
Prunus americana lanata 31
Prunus andersoniiDesert Peach22
Prunus angustifoliaChickasaw Plum, Watson's plum, Hally Jolivette Cherry31
Prunus angustifolia watsoniiSand Plum41
Prunus apetalaClove Cherry21
Prunus arabica 21
Prunus armeniacaApricot33
Prunus aviumWild Cherry, Sweet cherry42
Prunus besserianaDwarf Almond21
Prunus besseyiWestern Sand Cherry41
Prunus bifrons 21
Prunus bokharensisBokhara Plum21
Prunus brigantinaBriançon Apricot41
Prunus buergeriana 21
Prunus campanulataTaiwan Cherry21
Prunus canescensGreyleaf Cherry31
Prunus capsica 21
Prunus carolinianaAmerican Cherry Laurel, Carolina laurelcherry, Laurel Cherry,21
Prunus cerasiferaCherry Plum, Myrobalan Plum, Newport Cherry Plum, Pissard Plum41
Prunus cerasifera divaricata 41
Prunus cerasoidesWild Himalayan Cherry22
Prunus cerasus austeraMorello Cherry31
Prunus cerasus capronianaKentish Red Cherry31
Prunus cerasus frutescensBush Sour Cherry31
Prunus cerasus marascaMaraschino Cherry31
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Expert comment
 
Author
L.
Botanical References
1117200
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
 
Elizabeth H.
Thu Aug 24 2006
Surprixed to see the edibility rating on this one is 1! It's one of my favorite snack fruits, with it's pleasant cranberry-sour edge.
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Subject : Prunus cerasus  

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