Re: wild black cherry - are the cherries edible?

Prunus serotina? The cherries are edible...
Dave

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The fruit of the choke cherry and wild black cherry is edible. But not the pits. May be somewhat tart but that can vary from year to year. makes a great cherry sauce for desserts
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On Tue, 15 Jul 2003 00:15:44 GMT, "V_coerulea"

I used to eat them from the tree when I lived in Norfolk, VA, where there were many of them. The fruit is somewhat bittersweet, but when it is fully ripe, I found it delicious. I spit out the pits.
Mike Prager Beaufort, NC (on the coast in zone 8a) (Remove symbols from email address to reply.)
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<< Yes all parts are poisonous except

I used to eat them from the tree when I lived in Norfolk, VA, where there were many of them. The fruit is somewhat bittersweet, but when it is fully ripe, I found it delicious. I spit out the pits.
Mike Prager
Or you wouldn't be with us today, I assume. zemedelec
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.comspamfree (Zemedelec) wrote in

unless you chew up the pits, they aren't too likely to harm you. the human digestive system passes them through. we just don't have enough acid to dissolve the outer shell of the pit. but the pits aren't very tasty & spitting pits is kind of amusing... better to spit than swollow in this case :) my goats & llamas love the bark & leaves, and according to my vet a little is ok *unless* it is at all wilted. wilted cherry is *very* poisonous to livestock. she also says wilted maple leaves are bad. any idea why that would be?
lee
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The leaves of native red maples (Acer rubrum; leaves of other maple species are totally harmless) are toxic to about 50% of horses, who show symptoms of anemia within a day if browsing a lot of the fallen leaves: yellow mucus in the eyes, brown urine -- death results VERY commonly if those first signs are evident. Most dangerous time is in the autumn, when leaves accumulate of the ground.What the toxin is no one has identified -- it is probably some kind of aliphatic proton -- & I've never heard of it effecting any other animals, but the result of eating autumn leaves for horses is very overt for the large percentage who are sensitive to it. Because leaves browsed early in the year do not seem to harm horses, to the observer it looks like only "wilted" autumn leaves harm horses, but it seems to me more likely that the unidentified toxin is something that is in autumn leaves only, period, wilted or not. For fallen leaves that have aged a full month, these can no longer harm horses & have been safely used as silage.
I've heard a hundred times that wilted cherry leaves, mountain mahagony leaves & wilted black locust leaves (sometimes wilted apple & peach leaves are tossed onto the list) are the most dangerous, & looked into it once upon a time because it sounded like such an old wives tale. But sometimes old wives tales turn out to be true. This is not true of leaves two or three weeks after leaf-fall, but leaves if bruised, damaged, or wilting, or experiencing sudden frost, these do become more toxic, chiefly around autumn. Frost, storm-damage, or even pruning can cause the glucosides in the leaves to break down into prussic acid (hydrocyanide). This toxin dissipates rapidly, but it is momentarily quite toxic, & the prussic acid also smells very nice, a bit like an almond joy bar rolled in dirt. Many ruminants can't resist it when they smell such nice scents & compare that to boring old straw. It is apparently harmless to deer, elk, or goats, but for cattle, sheep, & llamas it can be fatal.
But each day more & more of the prussic acid dissipates. "Old" (partially decayed) cherry leaves have been safely used as silage for sheep & llamas. Old cherry leaves have even been included in commercially processed feeds (mainly inthe cheapest brands), & the prussic acid is totally absent.
There is more prussic acid in the leaves of cherries that grow in shade than those that grow in bright sunlight. There is much more in black cherry, laurel cherry, chokecherry, & portugal cherry than in cultivated cherries. There is more in the cherry pits than in the leaves, but the cherries are safely eaten by ruminants because the pits pass through the system undigested & so release no toxins.
When our friends' alpacas broke through a fence to clean off all the lower limbs of a half-dozen (cultivated, not wild) cherry & peach trees, the owners were worried sick their alpacas would get sick or die, but not a thing happened. In the majority of cases the toxicity is at such a low level as to be harmless to all animals, even in wild cherries. But as it would be impossible to know the levels without almost daily testing, or a perfect daily awareness of stress factors on the trees, wild cherries & locusts are generally just kept well away from the fences of pastures.
-paghat the ratgirl
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