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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 or cooked in pies, tarts, jams etc[1][2][3][4][5]. The size of a small plum with a thin skin and a nice sweet flavour[5]. The flesh is somewhat mealy but is also juicy[K]. The fruit can hang on the tree until October[K]. The fruit is about 30mm in diameter and contains one large seed[6]. Seed - raw or cooked. 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[7]. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit[7]. Makes quite a good windbreak hedge though it cannot stand too much exposure[8][9][10]. Often used as a rootstock for the cultivated plums, giving them a semi-dwarfing habit[11].

Unknown part

Dye

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The plant is used in Bach flower remedies - the keywords for prescribing it are 'Desperation', 'Fear of losing control of the mind' and 'Dread of doing some frightful thing'[12]. It is also one of the five ingredients in the 'Rescue remedy'[12]. 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[13].

Unknown part

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Secondary canopy

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.

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[6]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible[6]. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate[14]. 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. Division of suckers in the dormant season. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions.

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



Cultivation

Requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil[8][9]. Succeeds in light shade but fruits better in a sunny position[9][6]. Thrives in a loamy soil, doing well on limestone[9]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers some chalk in the soil but apt to become chlorotic if too much is present[8]. A very ornamental plant[8], it is sometimes cultivated for its edible fruit, unfortunately this is not often borne in large quantities in Britain[15][16], but large crops are produced every 4 years or so[K]. There are some named varieties[5]. Included as a part of P. divaricata by some botanists[9] though others include P. divaricata as a sub-species under this species[6]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[13]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[6].

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Prunus cerasifera. 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 cerasifera.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Prunus cerasifera
Genus
Prunus
Family
Rosaceae
Imported References
Edible uses
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
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
4
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Strong wind
Ecosystems
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Life
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
9 x 9 meters
Fertility
?
Pollinators
Flower Colour
?
Flower Type

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References

  1. ? 1.01.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-01-01)
  2. ? 2.02.1 Mabey. R. Food for Free. Collins ISBN 0-00-219060-5 (1974-01-01)
  3. ? 3.03.1 Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P. Britain's Wild Larder. David and Charles ISBN 0-7153-7971-2 ()
  4. ? 4.04.1 Harrison. S. Wallis. M. Masefield. G. The Oxford Book of Food Plants. Oxford University Press (1975-01-01)
  5. ? 5.05.15.25.3 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-01-01)
  6. ? 6.06.16.26.36.46.56.66.7 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-01-01)
  7. ? 7.07.17.2 Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants. MacMillan Publishing Co. New York. ISBN 0-02-544950-8 (1974-01-01)
  8. ? 8.08.18.28.38.4 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-01-01)
  9. ? 9.09.19.29.39.49.59.6 Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-01-01)
  10. ? 10.010.1 Shepherd. F.W. Hedges and Screens. Royal Horticultural Society. ISBN 0900629649 (1974-01-01)
  11. ? 11.011.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-01-01)
  12. ? 12.012.112.2 Chancellor. P. M. Handbook of the Bach Flower Remedies C. W. Daniel Co. Ltd. ISBN 85207 002 0 (1985-01-01)
  13. ? 13.013.113.2 Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-01-01)
  14. ? Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press ISBN 0942375009 (1987-01-01)
  15. ? Simmons. A. E. Growing Unusual Fruit. David and Charles ISBN 0-7153-5531-7 (1972-01-01)
  16. ? Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-01-01)