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.
The fruit might be edible
. The fruits of all members of this genus are more or less edible, though not always of very good quality[K]. However, if the fruit is bitter it should not be eaten in any quantity due to the presence of toxic compounds, see the notes above on toxicity[K]. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter and contains one large seed
Seed - raw or cooked. The dried seed kernels are used as a flavouring in breads, sweet pastries, confectionery etc
. They impart an intriguing flavour
. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter - see the notes above on toxicity.
A green dye can be obtained from the leaves
A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit.
Can be used as a rootstock for the cultivated cherries.
Wood - hard, very heavy, polishes well. Used for turnery, ornamental items etc
The seed is tonic
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
Canopy or Secondary canopy
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.
Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Prunus mahaleb. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.
Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil
, growing best in a poor soil
. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present
. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position
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
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
There are no interactions listed for Prunus mahaleb. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.
Polycultures & Guilds
There are no polycultures listed which include Prunus mahaleb.
This table shows all the data stored for this plant.
Material uses & Functions
Native Climate Zones
Adapted Climate Zones
Native Geographical Range
Root Zone Tendancy
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? 9.09.1 Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
? 10.010.110.2 Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
? Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press ISBN 0942375009 (1987-00-00)
? ? Flora Europaea Cambridge University Press (1964-00-00)
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