Chokecherry Identification and uses

The Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) is considered to be of the bird cherry species, (meaning it has flowerous leaves and is deciduous)and can be found throughout the continent of North America. The average height of the Chokecherry is around 5 meters or 17 feet tall. Leaves found on the Chokecherry are long oval spaced leaves generally 3 to 10 centimeters long and have a rough texture. In the spring it produces a 15 to 30 centimeter racemes which are a type of inflorescence. The Chokecherries that the tree produces are a bright red, 1 centimeter, sour-tasting fruit. Chokecherries are astringent meaning that they shrink body tissue, but they are edible. Its closest relative a form of the cherry tree called the Goertz is similar and also has been proved to be edible. There are 2 types of Chokecherry. The Common Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana var. virginiana), found in Eastern North America, and the Western Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana var. demissa), found in Western North America. The main difference between the two is that the Eastern’s is hairless on the bottom of the leaves and the Western’s has downy. Most consider the Chokecherry tree to be a pest for 3 main reasons. One, it grows fast and thick in the temperate North American climate. Two, its berries act as a poison for horses and can prove fatal to them in many cases. And three, it is a host to the tent caterpillar. Tent caterpillar’s are also called bagworms and form those irritating white nests in trees.

Chokecherries have many uses. As food, this wild cherry makes fine preserves, juice, jelly, and syrup. Chokecherry leather is still a unique, convenient, healthy, and tasty snack. The cherries themselves can be eaten raw or cooked. Also, its bark can be used to make tea. Medicinally, the roots and the bark of Chokecherry can act as a blood tonic, astringent, sedative, cough supressant, pink eye cure, and appetite stimulant. The wild cherry is an herb which has been used for a very long time in herbalism and is mostly noted for its use in respiratory problems. It has a soothing and sedative effect on the nervous system. It is in this way that it has its influence on the heart. In digestive disorders its use is very noticeable. It helps the flow of gastric juices. A few other uses are its erosion control, its ability to act as a pioneer species on uncultivated land, and its leaves can be used to obtain green dye from.