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Toxic parts

The seed and leaves contain hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is readily detected by its bitter taste. Usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm, any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten[1]. 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


Fruit - raw or cooked[2][3][1][4][5]. A thin sour flesh[6][7]. Usually too sour to be eaten raw, it is used mainly for making pies, jellies etc[8][9]. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter and contains one large seed[10].

A gum that exudes from the trunk can be used as a chewing gum[9].

Seed - raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter - see the notes above on toxicity.


Unknown part


Material uses

A green dye can be obtained from the leaves[11].

A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit[11]. The outer bark is used to ornament baskets. It is watertight and resists decay[1]. The tree has a vigorous root system and is sometimes planted to stabilise soils and contain erosion[12]. It is a good pioneer species for burnt over land. It establishes quickly, providing shelter for other woodland trees and then dying out[13].

Wood - light, soft, close grained[6]. It weighs 31lb per cubic foot[14]. Only used as a fuel[13].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of fevers, bronchitis, coughs and colds, infections and blood poisoning[5].

A decoction of the inner bark has been used in the treatment of laryngitis[5]. A poultice of the boiled, shredded inner bark has been applied to a bleeding umbilical cord[5]. An infusion of the inner bark has been used as an eye wash for sore eyes[5]. The astringent root bark has been used as a wash on old sores and ulcers[5]. A decoction of the root has been used as a treatment for stomach pains[5]. The fruit is often used domestically in the preparation of cough mixtures[6].

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[15].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Canopy or Secondary canopy

Ecological Functions


Earth stabiliser


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - requires 2 - 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[10]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible[10]. The stored seed is best given 2 months warm followed by 3 months cold stratification[16]. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate[16]. 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[17][10]. A very low percentage[16]. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame[10].

Layering in spring.

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


Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, growing well on limestone[17][10]. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present[18]. Requires a sunny position[17] and soon dying out if in the shade of other trees[12].

A fast growing but short-lived tree[17][19]. This species plays a vital role in the regeneration of forests in its native habitats, acting as a nurse tree until it is shaded out by other trees[19][10]. It often springs up in burnt-over areas from seed spread by birds and mammals[12]. Closely related to P. emarginata, and hybridizing with it where their ranges overlap[13]. A good bee plant[19]. The fruit is very attractive to birds[19]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[15].

Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[10].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Prunus pensylvanica. 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 pensylvanica.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Prunus pensylvanica
Imported References
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    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.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    12 x 8 meters
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? Turner. N. J. and Szczawinski. A. Edible Wild Fruits and Nuts of Canada. National Museum of Natural Sciences (1978-00-00)
    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 Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-00-00)
    5. ? Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    6. ? Sargent. C. S. Manual of the Trees of N. America. Dover Publications Inc. New York. ISBN 0-486-20278-X (1965-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.1 Harrington. H. D. Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains. University of New Mexico Press ISBN 0-8623-0343-9 (1967-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 McPherson. A. and S. Wild Food Plants of Indiana. Indiana University Press ISBN 0-253-28925-4 (1977-00-00)
    9. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    10. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    11. ? Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants. MacMillan Publishing Co. New York. ISBN 0-02-544950-8 (1974-00-00)
    12. ? Lauriault. J. Identification Guide to the Trees of Canada Fitzhenry and Whiteside, Ontario. ISBN 0889025649 (1989-00-00)
    13. ? Elias. T. The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. ISBN 0442238622 (1980-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.1 Britton. N. L. Brown. A. An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada Dover Publications. New York. ISBN 0-486-22642-5 (1970-00-00)
    15. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    16. ? Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press ISBN 0942375009 (1987-00-00)
    17. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
    18. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    19. ? Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Garden Way, Vermont, USA. ISBN 0-88266-064-0 (1978-00-00)
    20. ? Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany. American Book Co. (1950-00-00)

    Facts about "Prunus pensylvanica"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyRosaceae +
    Belongs to genusPrunus +
    Functions asPioneer + and Earth stabiliser +
    Has binomial namePrunus pensylvanica +
    Has common namePin Cherry +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partFruit +, Unknown part + and Seed +
    Has edible useUnknown use + and Gum +
    Has fertility typeInsects +
    Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
    Has growth rateVigorous +
    Has hardiness zone2 +
    Has lifecycle typePerennial +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useBasketry +, Dye + and Wood +
    Has mature height12 +
    Has mature width8 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAntitussive +, Astringent +, Febrifuge +, Ophthalmic +, Pectoral +, Poultice + and Salve +
    Has search nameprunus pensylvanica + and pin cherry +
    Has shade toleranceNo shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
    Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy + and Clay +
    Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
    Has taxonomy namePrunus pensylvanica +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Inhabits ecosystem nicheCanopy + and Secondary canopy +
    Is deciduous or evergreenDeciduous +
    Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF toxicity notes migratedNo +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
    Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Prunus pensylvanica +, Prunus pensylvanica +, Prunus pensylvanica +, Prunus pensylvanica +, Prunus pensylvanica +, Prunus pensylvanica +, Prunus pensylvanica +, Prunus pensylvanica +, Prunus pensylvanica +, Prunus pensylvanica +, Prunus pensylvanica +, Prunus pensylvanica + and Prunus pensylvanica +