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Cherry Sour

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  • Botanical: Prunus cerasus
  • Family: Rosaceae
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Cherry Sour

Botanical

Prunus cerasus

Family

Rosaceae

Known as

Cherry, Vogelkirsche, Süsskirsche, Sauerkirsche, Weichselkirsche, Morellen

Collection Times

June - July

Parts Used

fruit, seed

Medicinal

anxiety, colds, coughs, ulcers

Heart & Circulation

blood forming, edema

Infection & Inflammation

fever

Mind & Nerves

anxiety, nervousness

Respiratory System

bronchitis, colds, cough

Stomach & Intestinal

diarrhea, digestion

Properties

antispasmodic, diuretic, nervine

Description

The tree is smaller than the sweet cherry (growing to a height of 4–10 m), has twiggy branches, and its crimson-to-near-black cherries are borne upon shorter stalks.

The leaves near the base of the stem are large and numerous, 6 to 8 inches long and 2 to 2 1/2 inches broad, but become smaller as they ascend the stem, on which they are arranged not opposite to one another, but on alternate sides.

The flowers are stalkless, the sulphur-yellow corolla, a somewhat irregular cup, nearly an inch across, formed of five rounded petals, united at the base to form a very short tube, being enclosed in a woolly calyx, deeply cut into five lobes. The five stamens stand on the corolla; three of them are shorter than the other two and have a large number of tiny white hairs on their filaments.

Properties & Uses

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. A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit

Traditional Use

The bark is astringent, bitter and febrifuge. An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of fevers, coughs and colds. The root bark has been used as a wash for old sores and ulcers. The seed is nervine. 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.

Cautions

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

Distribution

native to much of Europe and southwest Asia. Naturalized in Britain.

Constituents

Alantoin, amygdalin, asparagine, vitamin C, cyanidin, methyl salicylate