Dwarf American Cherry (Prunus pumila susquehanae)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Dwarf American Cherry
Prunus pumila susquehanae
Rosaceae

A green dye can be obtained from the leaves[168].

A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit[168].

Used as a rootstock for the sour cherry[160].

  • Medicinal Use

    Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being[238].

  • Edible Use

    Fruit – raw or cooked[2, 159, 161]. A reasonable size, up to 10mm in diameter with one large seed[200]. A rich and pleasantly acid taste when fully ripe though they are sometimes slightly bitter[2, 11, 101, 183]. Eaten out of hand, used in preserves or dried for later use[183].

    Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes above on toxicity.

  • Cautionary Notes

    Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – requires 2 – 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[200]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible[200]. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate[113]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame[11, 200]. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame[200]. Layering in spring.
Requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil[1, 11]. Thrives in a loamy soil, doing well on limestone[11]. Prefers some chalk in the soil but apt to become chlorotic if too much is present[1]. Requires a sunny position[11]. Established plants are very drought resistant[160]. Plants are hardy to about -35¡c when fully dormant[160]. Plants are susceptible to mildew in low areas[160]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200]. Thrives in areas with a short growing season[160]. The fruit is highly resistant to all fruit worms[160]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[238]. Plants can produce fruit in 3 years from seed[160].
Eastern N. America – Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.