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Prunus ilicifolia - (Nutt.)Walp.

Common Name Holly-Leaved Cherry
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards 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.
Habitats Borders of streams and moist sandy soils, where it makes a small tree. It is also found on dry hillsides where it is only a shrub[82].
Range South-western N. America - California.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Prunus ilicifolia Holly-Leaved Cherry


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Prunus ilicifolia Holly-Leaved Cherry
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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Prunus ilicifolia is an evergreen Shrub growing to 4 m (13ft 1in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower in July, and the seeds ripen from November to December. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Laurocerasus ilicifolia.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Seed
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw, cooked or dried for later use[92, 161, 183]. A pleasant tart taste[2, 229], it is considered by some people to be a great delicacy[257]. A thin, slightly acid, astringent flesh[82]. The fruit can be mixed with lemon to make a sauce[183]. The fruit only has a very thin flesh, it is about 15mm in diameter and contains one large seed[200, 229]. Seed - raw or cooked[92, 16, 257]. The seed can be ground into a meal, leached to remove the bitterness and then mixed with flour to make bread etc[183]. The seed meal can be leached by placing it in a basket and then pouring warm water over it[257]. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter - see the notes above on toxicity.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Pectoral

An infusion of the leaves, or of the bark and roots, has been used as a cough medicine[257]. 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[238].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Dye  Wood

A green dye can be obtained from the leaves[168]. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit[168]. Wood - heavy, hard, strong, close grained. Usually too small to be of commercial importance, it is used mainly as a fuel[82, 229].

Special Uses

Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil[11]. Succeeds in a hot dry position. Succeeds in full sun but prefers a position with some shade[200]. Thrives in a loamy soil, doing well on limestone[11]. Prefers some chalk in the soil but it is apt to become chlorotic if too much is present[1]. This species is not very hardy in Britain, though it should succeed when grown against a sunny wall in the milder areas of the country[182, 219]. Young plants are very susceptible to frost damage, though they become somewhat hardier as they age[219]. It is hardy in the mildest areas of the country[11]. Trees are moderately fast-growing when young, though they slow with age. They often live more than 100 years in the wild[229]. Heavy fruit crops are produced periodically[229]. The flowers are sweetly scented[245]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[238]. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[200].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - requires 2 - 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[200]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible[200]. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate[113]. 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[11, 200]. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame[200]. Layering in spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

NORTHERN AMERICA: United States (California (w. & incl. San Clemente & Santa Catalina Islands)), Mexico (Baja)

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.

 

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Author

(Nutt.)Walp.

Botanical References

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