The leaves and young branches of this species contain considerable quantities of hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin 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
. It has a thick skin and a thin dry flesh
and is not edible
. It is slightly toxic to humans
. The fruit is about 13mm in diameter and contains one large seed
Seed - raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter - see the notes above on toxicity.
Amenable to trimming, this plant can be grown as a screen and hedge
. It can also be used in shelterbelt plantings
A green dye can be obtained from the leaves.
A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit.
Wood - hard, heavy, strong, close grained
. The trees are seldom large enough for the wood to be exploited commercially
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
There are no medicinal uses listed for Prunus caroliniana.
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 caroliniana. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.
Requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil
. Succeeds in a hot dry position. Succeeds in light shade but fruits better in a sunny position
. Thrives in a loamy soil, doing well on limestone
. Prefers some chalk in the soil but apt to become chlorotic if too much is present
. Fairly wind-resistant
One report says that this species is tender in most of Britain, whilst another says that it succeeds in climatic zone 7 (tolerating frosts down to about -15°c).
A fast-growing but short-lived tree.
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 caroliniana. 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 caroliniana.
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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? 3.03.13.23.3 Vines. R.A. Trees of North Texas University of Texas Press. ISBN 0292780206 (1982-00-00)
? 4.04.14.24.34.4 Elias. T. The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. ISBN 0442238622 (1980-00-00)
? 5.005.015.025.035.045.055.065.075.085.095.105.22.214.171.124 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
? 6.06.16.2 Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants. MacMillan Publishing Co. New York. ISBN 0-02-544950-8 (1974-00-00)
? 7.07.17.2 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)
? 9.09.19.29.126.96.36.199 Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)