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Prunus cerasus austera - L.

Common Name Morello Cherry
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness 3-7
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 Not known in the wild[11].
Range S.E. Europe to W. Asia.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Prunus cerasus austera Morello Cherry


Prunus cerasus austera Morello Cherry

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

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Prunus cerasus austera is a deciduous Tree growing to 9 m (29ft 6in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Hedge; North Wall. By.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Oil  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Gum  Gum  Oil  Oil  Tea

Fruit - raw or cooked[1, 2, 5, 11, 12]. The fruit is neither bitter nor sweet, but is pleasantly acid[11] and it can be eaten out of hand, used in pies, preserves etc or dried for later use[183]. The fruit has a dark juice[11]. The fruit is about 18mm in diameter and contains one large seed[200]. 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[46, 61]. When refined it is used as a salad oil[183]. The leaves are used as a tea substitute[46, 61, 183]. A gum obtained from the trunk is used for chewing[61, 64].

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.


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].

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Other Uses

Adhesive  Dye  Gum  Gum  Hedge  Hedge  Oil  Oil  Wood

An edible drying oil obtained from the seed is also used in cosmetics[61]. The gum obtained from the stem is also used as an adhesive[61, 64]. Plants can be grown as a hedge[50], succeeding in fairly exposed positions[K]. A green dye can be obtained from the leaves[168]. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit[168].

Special Uses

Hedge  Hedge

Cultivation details

Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil[11, 200]. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present[1]. Prefers an acid soil according to another report[5]. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position[11, 200]. 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[184]. This subspecies covers the cultivated bitter cherries known as Morello cherries[11]. They have been long cultivated for their edible fruit and there are several named varieties[200]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[238]. Plants produce suckers freely[184]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200].

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Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

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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[113]. 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.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

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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Subject : Prunus cerasus austera  
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