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.
Fruit - raw or cooked
. The fruit is neither bitter nor sweet, but is pleasantly acid
and it can be eaten out of hand, used in pies, preserves etc or dried for later use
. The fruit has a dark juice
. The fruit is about 18mm 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.
An edible oil is obtained from the seed. When refined it is used as a salad oil.
The leaves are used as a tea substitute.
A gum obtained from the trunk is used for chewing
An edible drying oil obtained from the seed is also used in cosmetics
The gum obtained from the stem is also used as an adhesive.
Plants can be grown as a hedge, succeeding in fairly exposed positions[K].
A green dye can be obtained from the leaves.
A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit
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 cerasus austera.
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.
Division of suckers during the dormant season. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions.
Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Prunus cerasus austera. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.
Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil
. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present
. Prefers an acid soil according to another report
. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position
. Plants succeed when grown against a north-facing wall, the fruit ripens later in this position thus extending the season[11, K].
Hardy to about -20°c.
This subspecies covers the cultivated bitter cherries known as Morello cherries. They have been long cultivated for their edible fruit and there are several named varieties.
Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged. Plants produce suckers freely.
Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
There are no interactions listed for Prunus cerasus austera. 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 cerasus austera.
This table shows all the data stored for this plant.
Prunus cerasus austera
Material uses & Functions
- Strong wind
- Maritime exposure
Native Climate Zones
Adapted Climate Zones
Native Geographical Range
Root Zone Tendancy
? 1.01.11.2 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
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? 3.03.13.2 Mabey. R. Food for Free. Collins ISBN 0-00-219060-5 (1974-00-00)
? 4.04.14.24.126.96.36.199.7 Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
? 5.05.1 Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P. Britain's Wild Larder. David and Charles ISBN 0-7153-7971-2 ()
? 6.06.16.26.3 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
? 7.07.17.27.188.8.131.52.77.8 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
? 8.08.18.2 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
? 9.09.19.29.184.108.40.206 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
? 10.010.110.210.3 Howes. F. N. Vegetable Gums and Resins. Faber ()
? 11.011.1 ? Flora Europaea Cambridge University Press (1964-00-00)
? 12.012.112.2 Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants. MacMillan Publishing Co. New York. ISBN 0-02-544950-8 (1974-00-00)
? 13.013.113.2 Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
? 14.014.1 Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press ISBN 0942375009 (1987-00-00)
? 15.015.1 Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Shrubs. Pan Books ISBN 0-330-30258-2 (1989-00-00)