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Korean Cherry (Prunus japonica)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Korean Cherry
Prunus japonica

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

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

  • Medicinal Use

    The kernels are aperient, carminative, demulcent, deobstruent, diuretic, hypotensive, laxative, lenitive and ophthalmic[147, 176, 178, 218, 238]. They are taken internally in the treatment of dry constipation, oedema and insomnia following a trauma[238].

    The root is used in the treatment of constipation, children’s fever, pinworms and teeth ailments[218].

    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. A sweet agreeable flavour, they make a good pie[183]. Cherry-like, a harsh sour taste[178]. A reasonable size, about 14mm in diameter with one large seed[200].

    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.
Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil[11, 200]. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present[1]. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position[11, 200]. Plants are hardy to at least -15¡c[238]. A very ornamental plant[1], but it is subject to die-back[11]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200]. The Korean cherry is sometimes cultivated for its edible fruit, there is at least one named variety[183]. The sub-species P. japonica nakai. (LŽv.)Rehd., which comes from Manchuria, has larger plum-like fruits up to 50mm in diameter[200]. This species is closely related to P. glandulosa[11, 58]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[238].
E. Asia – China, Japan, Korea, Manchuria.

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.