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Prunus padus - L.                
                 
Common Name Bird Cherry, European bird cherry
Family Rosaceae
Synonyms Padus racemosa.
Known Hazards The seed and leaves contain hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is readily detected by its bitter taste. Usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm, any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten[19, 65]. 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 By streams and in moist open woods[9], usually on alkaline soils[98] but also found on acid soils in upland areas[186].
Range Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to Spain, Siberia and the Himalayas.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       
Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early winter, Late winter, Mid winter. Form: Rounded, Vase.

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of lolypop
Prunus padus is a deciduous Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Flies, bees.It is noted for attracting wildlife.


USDA hardiness zone : 3-6


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.

Prunus padus Bird Cherry, European bird cherry


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:312_Prunus_padus.jpg
Prunus padus Bird Cherry, European bird cherry
   
Habitats       
Woodland Garden Canopy;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Fruit;  Leaves;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Tea.

Fruit - raw or cooked[2, 5, 13, 46]. The fruit usually has a bitter taste and is used mainly for making jam and preserves[11, 183]. The fruit is about the size of a pea and contains one large seed[200]. Flowers - chewed[177, 183]. Young leaves - cooked[177]. Used as a boiled vegetable in Korea[183]. Seed - raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter - see the notes above on toxicity. A tea is made from the bark[183].
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.

Anodyne;  Diuretic;  Febrifuge;  Sedative.

The bark is mildly anodyne, diuretic, febrifuge and sedative[9, 13]. An infusion is used in the treatment of colds, feverish conditions etc[9]. The bark is harvested when the tree is in flower and can be dried for later use[9]. 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
Dye;  Wood.

A green dye can be obtained from the leaves[168]. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit[168]. Wood - hard, heavy, durable, easy to work, polishes well. It is much valued by cabinet makers[11, 46, 115].
Cultivation details                                         
Landscape Uses:Specimen. Succeeds in any soil, preferring 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]. Very hardy but it does not like exposure to strong winds[186]. A very hardy tree[1, 11], tolerating temperatures down to about -30°c[184]. A very ornamental species[1], there are some named varieties[188]. The sub-species P. padus borealis is found in Scandinavia and the mountains of C. Europe. It is a shrub growing only to about 3 metres high[184]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[238]. Trees usually produce lots of suckers and will soon regenerate by this method if the main trunk is cut down[186]. This tree is a host for cereal virus vector[98]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200]. Trees only cast a light shade and do not themselves thrive in heavy shade[186]. The fruits are relished by birds and the flowers and leaves attract many insects. Special Features:Not North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Fragrant flowers, Blooms are very showy.
                                                                                 
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. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood, October/November in a frame. Suckers removed in late winter. Layering in spring.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
L.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
1117200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[5]Mabey. R. Food for Free.
Edible wild plants found in Britain. Fairly comprehensive, very few pictures and rather optimistic on the desirability of some of the plants.
[9]Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.
[11]Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
[13]Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants.
Very interesting reading, giving some details of plant uses and quite a lot of folk-lore.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[98]Gordon. A. G. and Rowe. D. C. f. Seed Manual for Ornamental Trees and Shrubs.
Very comprehensive guide to growing trees and shrubs from seed. Not for the casual reader.
[113]Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation.
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.
[115]Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain.
Written about a hundred years ago, but still a very good guide to the useful plants of Britain.
[168]Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants.
A very good and readable book on dyeing.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[184]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Shrubs.
Excellent photographs and a terse description of 1900 species and cultivars.
[186]Beckett. G. and K. Planting Native Trees and Shrubs.
An excellent guide to native British trees and shrubs with lots of details about the plants.
[188]Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.

Readers comment                                         
 
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