Black or Wild Cherry
- Prunus serotina L.
- Rose family
Parts Usually Used
Dried inner bark. (Leaves and seeds are poisonous)
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
A deciduous tree that grows 40-90 feet tall. The bark is rough, dark
gray fissured to expose inner reddish bark beneath. The leaves are
oval to lance-shaped, blunt-toothed margins; smooth above, pale beneath,
with whitish brown hairs on the prominent midrib. The flowers are
in dense drooping slender racemes or spikes, blooms April to June.
Fruits are strings of small, juicy cherries, dark red turning black,
at times nearly black cherries.
Best known for its highly valued and beautiful wood.
Dry woods. Nova Scotia to Florida; Texas to North Dakota; Minnesota.
The cherry tree is a native of Asia and was brought to Italy in the
first century BC.
Alterative, astringent, sedative, anti-tussive, digestive, expectorant,
carminative, antispasmodic, diuretic
Legends, Myths and Stories
Wild Cherry bark is an aromatic bitter, popular both in the form
of a decoction or steeped in whiskey, brandy or wine. As an infusion,
the bark should NOT be boiled, as it destroys much of the virtues.
Aromatic inner bark traditionally used in tea or syrup for coughs,
"blood tonic", fevers,
laryngitis, cough, whooping cough, bronchial spasms, bronchitis,
sore throats, asthma,
high blood pressure, colic,
edema, arthritis, diarrhea,
lung ailments, eye inflammation,
swollen lymph glands,
inflammatory fever diseases, and dyspepsia.
Useful for general debility with persistent cough, poor circulation,
lack of appetite, mild
sedative, and expectorant. Fruits used as "poor man's" cherry substitute.
Formulas or Dosages
Infusion: steep 1 oz. of the bark in 1 pint of water. Allow
to stand over night. Add honey, if desired. Dose: 1/2 wineglassful
3 times a day.
Bark, leaves, and seeds contain a cyanide-like glycoside, puransin,
which converts (when digested) to the Highly Toxic hydrocyanic acid.
Toxins are most abundant in bark harvested in the fall.
Should be used only under medical supervision.