A decoction of the branches has been used as a hair tonic for dyeing and curling the hair. The branches were harvested in mid summer, broken up and boiled for 2 - 3 hours in water, until the liquid looked like brown coffee. The liquid was decanted off and bottled without further treatment - it would store for a long time without deterioration. To use, the decoction was rubbed into the hair which was simultaneously curled and dyed a brownish colour.The berries, the froth made from them, or a jelly of the fruit, have been eaten as an insect repellent. It was said that mosquitoes were far less likely to bite a person who had eaten the fruit.
A poultice of the bark, softened by hot water and mixed with pin cherry bark (Prunus pensylvanica), has been used to make a plaster or bandage for wrapping broken limbs. An infusion of the bark has been used as a wash for sore eyes. The roots are antihaemorrhagic and cathartic. An infusion of the roots has been used as an aid to childbirth and in the treatment of tuberculosis and the coughing up of blood. A decoction of the stems has been used as a stomach tonic (it was also used to treat stomach cancer) and also in the treatment of constipation, high blood pressure and venereal disease. A decoction of the stems and leaves has been used as a wash in the treatment of sores, cuts and swellings. A decoction of the plant has been used externally as a wash and rub for aching limbs, arthritic joints, head and face sores. The inner bark is laxative. An infusion has been used in the treatment of constipation.The berries have been eaten as a treatment for high blood pressure. The fruit juice has been drunk in the treatment of digestive disorders. It has also been applied externally in the treatment of acne and boils.
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Plants can accumulate mercury when they are grown in polluted soils. Rarely produces fruits in Britain. Some named varieties have been developed for their ornamental value. 'Xanthocarpa' has yellow fruits, 'Rubra' has red fruits. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if fruit and seed is required.
Problems, pests & diseases
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Polycultures & Guilds
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