Celebrate our Most Popular Article With This Exclusive T-Shirt!!Visit our store by clicking on THIS LINK to get this t-Shirt which was designed exclusively for eattheplanet.org viewers which means it can not be purchased anywhere else on the internet. This shirt reads "Sassafras- The Radical Root". Our most popular article Sassafras, An Illegal Substance That Grows Wild In Our Back Yards inspired us to design this sassafras t-shirt
our facebook page for additional articles and updates.
Follow us on Twitter @EatThePlanetOrg
Wild Cherry Tree
The name Wild Cherry Tree refers to a number of species in the genus Prunus. Some of the more common are the Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) and the Chokecherry (Prunus Virginiana) both native to North America. There is also a species native to Europe called wild cherry ( Prunus avium). All these species have similar characteristics. Wild cherry trees can be identified by their leaves which have finely serrated edges and bark showing horizontal lenticels on newer growth, and sometimes older growth. Another good identification feature is that many cherry trees have a fungus called black knot which creates large and small cankers or burls on the tree. Black knot affects many plants in the Prunus genus including Cherries and Plums.
Edibility and Culinary Use
The only edible part of the plant is the fleshy part of the fruit, even the seeds contain toxins. Taste varies a lot from one species to another and also within each species from one individual to another. The European species Prunus avium is also called Sweet Cherry and it is the wild version of the cherries that we buy at the supermarket, its taste is sweeter than the North American species. The Black Cherry and Chokecherry have a similar taste, they can be very bitter, with a hint of sweetness, they can also be rather sweet, but the bitterness is almost always present. They can be eaten raw right off the tree but are more commonly used in pies and other recipes. If eating them raw choose the darkest and softest cherries, make sure you spit out the seed. Cherries are ripe in summer between May and June depending on the species.
Cherries contain a number of very effective antioxidants including chlorogenic acid, quercetin, and kaempferol. Cherries also help to reduce arthritis and gout pain. Cherries are an excellent source of Fiber, Potassium, and many B-Vitamins.
Leaves, bark, seeds and all other parts of the Cherry Tree contains a substance called hydrogen cyanide that break down into cyanide and could be potentially harmful to humans. Grazing animals are often lethally poisoned by eating too many cherry leaves. Hydrogen cyanide has a very bitter taste, if berries are extremely bitter it may be best to avoid them.
Cherries were a necessity to ancient people including Native American Indians, they ate them in many ways including pemmican, a high calorie Native American food for long trips. The native Cherry Tree is still common in many parts of the US especially the eastern half. Once you have identified that you have indeed found a cherry tree, try a cherry or two, I like to eat them raw in small quantity during the summer.
Read our Article on: Safe Foraging
Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.