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Prunus pensylvanica - L.f.

Common Name Pin Cherry
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards 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[101]. 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 Rocky woods in moist rather rich soils[43, 82]. Prefers wet woodlands, old tamarack bogs and interdunal swamps[159].
Range Northern and Eastern N. America - British Columbia to Newfoundland, south to Georgia.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Prunus pensylvanica Pin Cherry


USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2
Prunus pensylvanica Pin Cherry
http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/clearwater/LewisClark/

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Prunus pensylvanica is a deciduous Tree growing to 12 m (39ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 2. It is in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen in August. 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: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Cerasus pensylvanica.

Habitats

Woodland Garden Canopy; Secondary;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Seed
Edible Uses: Gum

Fruit - raw or cooked[2, 55, 101, 105, 257]. A thin sour flesh[82, 85]. Usually too sour to be eaten raw, it is used mainly for making pies, jellies etc[159, 183]. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter and contains one large seed[200]. A gum that exudes from the trunk can be used as a chewing gum[183]. Seed - raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter - see the notes above on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses

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Antitussive  Astringent  Febrifuge  Ophthalmic  Pectoral  Poultice  Salve

An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of fevers, bronchitis, coughs and colds, infections and blood poisoning[257]. A decoction of the inner bark has been used in the treatment of laryngitis[257]. A poultice of the boiled, shredded inner bark has been applied to a bleeding umbilical cord[257]. An infusion of the inner bark has been used as an eye wash for sore eyes[257]. The astringent root bark has been used as a wash on old sores and ulcers[257]. A decoction of the root has been used as a treatment for stomach pains[257]. The fruit is often used domestically in the preparation of cough mixtures[82]. 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

Basketry  Dye  Gum  Pioneer  Soil stabilization  Wood

A green dye can be obtained from the leaves[168]. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit[168]. The outer bark is used to ornament baskets. It is watertight and resists decay[101]. The tree has a vigorous root system and is sometimes planted to stabilise soils and contain erosion[226]. It is a good pioneer species for burnt over land. It establishes quickly, providing shelter for other woodland trees and then dying out[229]. Wood - light, soft, close grained[82]. It weighs 31lb per cubic foot[235]. Only used as a fuel[229].

Special Uses

Cultivation details

Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, growing well on limestone[11, 200]. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present[1]. Requires a sunny position[11] and soon dying out if in the shade of other trees[226]. A fast growing but short-lived tree[11, 20]. 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[20, 200]. It often springs up in burnt-over areas from seed spread by birds and mammals[226]. Closely related to P. emarginata, and hybridizing with it where their ranges overlap[229]. A good bee plant[20]. The fruit is very attractive to birds[20]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[238]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200].

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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]. The stored seed is best given 2 months warm followed by 3 months cold stratification[113]. 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]. A very low percentage[113]. 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

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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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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