The bark of the wild black cherry is a traditional remedy used by North American natives. Current pharmacological research has proven the medicinal properties of this beautiful tree, and its use has spread all over the United States and some regions of Europe.
In Central and Southern America, there is a similar species in appearance and properties. Some authors gave both species the same scientific name, Prunus serotina Ehrh., or a synonym: Prunus capuli Cav. This American cherry tree is popularly known as Andean cherry and Virginian bird cherry.
Wild Black Cherry Scientific Facts
- Scientific synonyms: Prunus virginia L., Prunus melanocarpa Rydb.
- Similar species: Prunus capuli Cav.
- Other names: American choke cherry, Virginian bird cherry.
- French: Cerisier de Virginie.
- Spanish: Cerezo de Virginia.
- Environment: It grows in forests in North America.
- Description: Tree of the Rosaceae family, growing up to 30 m high, with a dark, rough bark. Its fruits are similar to common cherries, however smaller, darker, and with a sourer taste.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The bark.
Healing Properties and Warning
The wild black cherry tree bark contains a coumaric glycoside (prunasine), coumaric acid, tannin, scopoletin, and essential oil. Its main medicinal action is expectorant and antitussive. It eases the elimination of the mucus from the respiratory pathways and relieves coughs. It is advantageous with colds and bronchitis.
Some American native tribes use the wild black cherry to alleviate labor pains due to its sedative properties.
WARNING! The leaves of the wild black cherry are poisonous since they contain hydrocyanic acid. However, the bark does not include this poison; therefore, its use is harmless.
How to use Wild Black Cherry
- Infusion with a teaspoonful of ground bark in a cup of hot water.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 330. Print.