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Uses

Toxic parts

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.

Edible uses

Notes

Fruit - raw, cooked in pies etc or used in preserves[1][2][3][4][5]. The flesh is succulent and juicy, though it is rather acid with a tough skin[6][7]. The best forms are pulpy and pleasant tasting[5][8]. The fruit is best cooked[7], and it can also be dried for later use[6]. The fruit is about 25mm in diameter and contains one large seed[9]. Seed - raw or cooked[6][5]. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter - see the notes above on toxicity.

Fruit

Material uses

A green dye can be obtained from the leaves[10].

A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit[10]. A red dye can be obtained from the roots[11]. This species is widely used as a rootstock for cultivated plums in North America[12]. The tough, elastic twigs can be bound into bundles and used as brooms for sweeping the floor[11]. Trees often grow wild along streams, where their roots tend to prevent soil erosion[13].

Wood - heavy, hard, close-grained, strong[14]. It weighs 45lb per cubic foot[8]. Of no commercial value because the trunk is too small[8].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

A tea made from the scraped inner bark is used as a wash to treat various skin problems and as a mouth wash to treat sores[15]. A poultice of the inner bark is disinfectant and is used as a treatment on cuts and wounds[11].

The bark is astringent, diuretic and pectoral[11]. It has been used to make a cough syrup[11]. An infusion has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea, kidney and bladder complaints[11]. An infusion of the twigs has been used in the treatment of asthma[11].

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[16].

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Rootstock


Earth stabiliser

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Seed - requires 2 - 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[9]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible[9]. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate[17]. 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. Difficult, if not impossible. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Difficult, it not impossible.

Suckers in late winter.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Prunus americana. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.



Cultivation

Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, doing well on limestone[18][9]. 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[18][9].

Trees are probably hardy to as low as -50°c when fully dormant[12]. A fast-growing but short-lived tree in the wild[19], it is cultivated for its edible fruit in N. America, where there are many named varieties[1][18][20]. It flowers well in Britain but rarely fruits well here[18]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[16]. Plants often produce suckers at the roots and form thickets[8]. The branches are brittle[21].

Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[9].

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Prunus americana. 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 americana.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Prunus americana
Genus
Prunus
Family
Rosaceae
Imported References
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
3
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Life
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    6 x meters
    Fertility
    ?
    Pollinators
    Flower Colour
    ?
    Flower Type











    References

    1. ? 1.01.11.21.3 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    2. ? 2.02.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Harris. B. C. Eat the Weeds. Pivot Health (1973-00-00)
    4. ? 4.04.1 Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants. Van Nostrand Reinhold ISBN 0442222009 (1982-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.15.25.3 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.16.26.3 Harrington. H. D. Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains. University of New Mexico Press ISBN 0-8623-0343-9 (1967-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.17.2 McPherson. A. and S. Wild Food Plants of Indiana. Indiana University Press ISBN 0-253-28925-4 (1977-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.18.28.38.48.5 Vines. R.A. Trees of North Texas University of Texas Press. ISBN 0292780206 (1982-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.19.29.39.49.59.69.7 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.110.2 Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants. MacMillan Publishing Co. New York. ISBN 0-02-544950-8 (1974-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.111.211.311.411.511.611.711.8 Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.112.2 Natural Food Institute, Wonder Crops. 1987. ()
    13. ? 13.013.1 Lauriault. J. Identification Guide to the Trees of Canada Fitzhenry and Whiteside, Ontario. ISBN 0889025649 (1989-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.1 Sargent. C. S. Manual of the Trees of N. America. Dover Publications Inc. New York. ISBN 0-486-20278-X (1965-00-00)
    15. ? 15.015.1 Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
    16. ? 16.016.116.2 Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    17. ? Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press ISBN 0942375009 (1987-00-00)
    18. ? 18.018.118.218.318.4 Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
    19. ? Elias. T. The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. ISBN 0442238622 (1980-00-00)
    20. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    21. ? Turner. N. J. and Szczawinski. A. Edible Wild Fruits and Nuts of Canada. National Museum of Natural Sciences (1978-00-00)
    22. ? Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany. American Book Co. (1950-00-00)