Index | Search | Home | Herb Hunters

Black Cherry

Prunus serotina Ehrh.

Black cherry
Figure 16.—Black cherry (Prunus serotina)
Synonym.Prunus virginiana Mill., not of Linnaeus.

Other common names.—Wild cherry, wild black cherry, cabinet-cherry, black choke, rum cherry, whisky-cherry, Virginian prune-bark.

Habitat and range.—The black cherry occurs in woods or open places and is most abundant in the Southeastern States, but its range extends from Nova Scotia to Florida, westward to Texas, and north through Oklahoma, the eastern portions of Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

Description.—This tree sometimes reaches a height of 90 feet and a maximum trunk diameter of 4 feet. The trunk is straight and covered with rough black bark, but the young branches are smooth and reddish. The smooth shining leaves are about 2 to 5 inches long. The long drooping clusters of small white flowers are borne at the ends of the branches, usually during May. The cherries, which ripen about August or September, are round, black, or very dark purple, about the size of a pea, and have a sweet, slightly astringent taste.

Part used.—The bark, collected in autumn. The outer layer is removed, and the bark is then carefully dried and preserved. Young thin bark is preferred and that from very young or very old branches should not be used. Black cherry bark should not be kept longer than one year, because it deteriorates with age.

Sievers, A.F. 1930. The Herb Hunters Guide. Misc. Publ. No. 77. USDA, Washington DC.
Last update Friday, March 13, 1998 by aw