Wild cherry

Prunus serotina

Description

Indigenous to eastern North America and the mountainous areas of Central America, the wild cherry (also called black cherry or rum cherry) was first recorded in Europe in the mid-19th century when it was imported and planted as a hardy species for pavements and open areas. The wild cherry’s seeds are dispersed by birds and as the tree grows rapidly and has a dense canopy, it is spreading widely across Europe, outcompeting indigenous species. However, in its home areas, the bark and root of the tree were known to native American peoples for their ability to relieve disorders of the chest and lungs, as an expectorant, to treat diarrhoea and to ease pain during labour.

Parts used

Bark of the root, trunk and branches.

Constituents

Wild cherry contains a volatile oil associated with hydrocyanic acid along with calcium salts, gallic acid, iron salts, lignin, potassium salts, starch and tannins.

Medicinal uses

Modern practitioners recommend wild cherry to:

  • Soothe coughs caused by conditions that affect the respiratory system, such as colds, allergy and hayfever.
  • Soothe and calm the nervous system.
  • Promote the flow of gastric juices, helping with dyspepsia and other digestive disorders.

CAUTION

Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
Apart from the ripe fruit, all parts of the wild cherry are slightly toxic and, although perfectly safe and effective if taken in the correct dosage, the extract can cause poisoning if too much is administered. Do not use during pregnancy or if breastfeeding, or give to children. Wild cherry may interact with medications that are changed and broken down by the liver. Always consult your healthcare practitioner before taking wild cherry or any other herbal preparations for health.

Flora Force Products containing Wild Cherry

Domestic & culinary uses

Wild cherry is used as a flavouring agent in foods and beverages. The fully ripened fruits can be used to make jams.

Cultivation

Prunus serotina is a deciduous tree that can reach 30 metres in height. The lance-shaped leaves are glossy and the tree bears clusters of white, fragrant blossoms. The ripened cherries are a very dark red. In South Africa, as in many parts of Europe, it has been declared an invasive alien.

Photo credits

  1. By Rasbak (Own work)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.