HomeHerb DatabaseCaban Cherry Tuesday, June 18, 2024  
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Black or Wild Cherry

  • Prunus serotina L.
  • Rosaceae
  • Rose family

Common Names

herbsAjamoda (Sanskrit name)
herbsBlack cherry
herbsBlack choke
herbsCaban cherry
herbsChoke cherry
herbsPadmaka (Sanskrit name)
herbsRub cherry
herbsRum cherry
herbsVirginia prune

Parts Usually Used

Dried inner bark. (Leaves and seeds are poisonous)

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

A deciduous tree that grows 40-90 feet tall. The bark is rough, dark gray fissured to expose inner reddish bark beneath. The leaves are oval to lance-shaped, blunt-toothed margins; smooth above, pale beneath, with whitish brown hairs on the prominent midrib. The flowers are in dense drooping slender racemes or spikes, blooms April to June. Fruits are strings of small, juicy cherries, dark red turning black, at times nearly black cherries.

Best known for its highly valued and beautiful wood.

Where Found

Dry woods. Nova Scotia to Florida; Texas to North Dakota; Minnesota.

The cherry tree is a native of Asia and was brought to Italy in the first century BC.

Medicinal Properties

Alterative, astringent, sedative, anti-tussive, digestive, expectorant, carminative, antispasmodic, diuretic

Legends, Myths and Stories

Wild Cherry bark is an aromatic bitter, popular both in the form of a decoction or steeped in whiskey, brandy or wine. As an infusion, the bark should NOT be boiled, as it destroys much of the virtues.


Aromatic inner bark traditionally used in tea or syrup for coughs, "blood tonic", fevers, colds, flu, laryngitis, cough, whooping cough, bronchial spasms, bronchitis, sore throats, asthma, high blood pressure, colic, edema, arthritis, diarrhea, lung ailments, eye inflammation, swollen lymph glands, tuberculosis, pneumonia, inflammatory fever diseases, and dyspepsia. Useful for general debility with persistent cough, poor circulation, lack of appetite, mild sedative, and expectorant. Fruits used as "poor man's" cherry substitute.

Formulas or Dosages

Infusion: steep 1 oz. of the bark in 1 pint of water. Allow to stand over night. Add honey, if desired. Dose: 1/2 wineglassful 3 times a day.

How Sold

Supermarket (fruits)


Bark, leaves, and seeds contain a cyanide-like glycoside, puransin, which converts (when digested) to the Highly Toxic hydrocyanic acid. Toxins are most abundant in bark harvested in the fall.

Should be used only under medical supervision.

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