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Prunus salicifolia - Kunth.

Common Name Capulin Cherry, Mexican Bird Cherry
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness 3-10
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
Range Southern N. America - Mexico to S. America - Peru.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Prunus salicifolia Capulin Cherry, Mexican Bird Cherry


Prunus salicifolia Capulin Cherry, Mexican Bird Cherry

 

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Summary

Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Prunus salicifolia is a deciduous Tree growing to 25 m (82ft 0in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower from May to June. 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, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. 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

P. capollin. P. capuli. P. serotina salicifolia.

Habitats

Woodland Garden Canopy;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Seed
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw or cooked[105, 161]. Thin skinned with a juicy sub-acid to sweet flesh but a slightly astringent aftertaste[183, 196]. They can be eaten out of hand or used in preserves, pies etc[183]. The juice is often mixed with cornmeal to make a cake[46]. The fruit is about 17mm 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.

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

Dye  Fuel  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 - hard, insect resistant. Used for furniture, musical instruments etc, It is also a good fuel[196].

Special Uses

Cultivation details

Special Features:Not North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Attractive flowers or blooms. Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, growing well on limestone[11, 196, 200]. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much is present[1]. Plants are not exacting in their soil requirements, succeeding in poor soils and in clays[196]. Requires a sunny position[11]. Plants have tolerated temperatures down to about -22°c in Massachusetts, N. America[196]. This species is closely related to P. serotina, but it has larger edible fruits[11]. A fast growing and vigorous species, it can fruit in its third year from seed[196]. Trees have a very low chilling requirement and are adapted to grow in warm winter areas where true cherries are unable to fruit[183]. They are cultivated in C. America, from Mexico to Peru, for their edible fruit. There are some named varieties[183, 196]. 'Ecuadorian' has large sweet fruit and is a heavy cropper[200]. 'Fausto' has large sweet fruit and is a good cropper. 'Harriet' is a dwarf tree with large fruit[200]. 'Hauchi Grande' has large mild-flavoured fruit and is a very heavy cropper[200]. 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]. 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

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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Author

Kunth.

Botanical References

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Readers comment

SOTIRIS SMYRNIS MD   Mon Apr 9 2007

SOTIRIS SMYRNIS PROFESSOR OF SURGERY RAVINEE 17 ATHENS 115 21 - GREECE ________________________ e-mail smyrnis@hol.gr Congratulation for your very good site Ihave been a member of CRFG (California Rare Fruit Growers)for many years. A few years ago I planted some capulin cherries using seeds from the seeds bank of CRFG. Last year some very good looking cherries from one tree produced.However I disregarded them and Itesed no one because I had already read in your site about there toxity. So I would appreciate it very much if you let me know: is any variety for grafting on these trees without toxitity - if so is posible to find some material for grafting.with many thanks Sotiris S. P.S.Ireally wonder why the toxity of capulin does not included in fruit facts of CRFG concerning the capulin cherry

Erik   Wed Jan 23 2008

The toxicity is in the seed kernel and in the vegetative parts (like all Prunus sp.), not in the ripe fruit, which is no more dangerous than the sour cherries grown in the Balkans (and probably in Greece also?). There is no such thing as a Prunus completely free of cyanide, but they aren't grown for livestock fodder and frankly even with the cyanide many still have enough pests munching on them. Just eat the fruit and don't worry. Some people in California say it is inferior to or at least quite different from "real" cherries, but in FL we don't have the luxury of "real cherries" and I've been looking for improved sorts for years. I did see trees in Colombia but their fruit wasn't ripe, so I can't give a personal verdict on flavor. The pulp is usually green, which might take getting used to.

Dr. Kitchappan   Sat Jun 27 2009

Toxicity Prunus salicifolia Cyanide content

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