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Before consuming wild plants, contact your doctor to make sure it is safe, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West.  Michael Moore’s books contain an excellent glossary of medical terms, as well as maps. )
#69
Common Name: Choke Cherry, Wild Choke Cherry, Wild Cherry, Rocky Mountain Cherry, Black Cherry,Capulin
Latin Name: Prunus Virginiana, P. serotina, P. virginiana  demissa, P. virgininana melanocarpa
Family: Rosaceae
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=PRVI all states except South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and most of Canada (Prunus virginiana)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=PRSE2 all states east of the Mississippi R. and adjacent states, plus North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec (Prunus serotina)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=PRVID Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alberta and British Columbia (Prunus virginiana demissa)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=PRVIM all states west of the Rocky Mountains, except Arizona, plus Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Alaska and corresponding Canadian provinces above the border.(Prunus virginiana melanocarpa)
Photos: (click on link of latin name after range)
(Michael Moore lumps them all together, I will cover him last)
69(a)
Common Name: Choke Cherry (Prunus viriginiana)
Native American Name: Daw-esha-boi (Paiutes), Too-mish (Warm Springs, Ore.), Tsamchit (Washoe)  (1)
Appearance and Habitat: A large, deciduous shrub or small understory tree,  choke cherry grows 20-30 ft. tall and often forms thickets. Dense clusters of white flowers are followed by red fruit ripening to dark purple from August to September (north) or June to August (south).  Shrub or small tree,  often forming dense thickets, with dark red or blackish chokecherries. As the common name suggests, chokecherries are astringent or puckery, especially when immature or raw; but they can be made into preserves and jelly. Sometimes divided into three geographic varieties based on minor differences of leaves and fruits. Tent caterpillars (Malacosoma) often construct their silvery webs on the branches of this species.  Found in rich moist soils, Limestone-based, sandy, sandy loam, to clay.   Chokecherry is moderately palatable to all classes of livestock, although it is more heavily browsed by domestic sheep than by cattle. It is a preferred mule deer browse on many winter ranges throughout the Intermountain West and Northern Great Plains. Fruits, leaves, and twigs are utilized. Large mammals including bears, moose, coyotes, bighorn sheep, pronghorn , elk , and deer use chokecherry as browse. (2) A decidious Shrub growing to 3.6 m (11ft 10in) at a fast rate.  It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. (3) 
Warnings: New growth, wilted leaves, or plant parts that are injured by frost or drought are poisonous to cattle and humans. (4)  The seed can contain high concentrations of hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives alonds their characteristic flavor.  This toxin is readily detected by its bitter taste.  Usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm, any very bitter seed or fruit sould 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. (5)
Edible Uses:  After picking from the bushes they are washed in tubs of water.  Mash it after it is cooked.  It is eaten between meals as a fruit. (6)  Fruit – raw or cooked. Very harsh, it is normally used in pies, jellies etc. Dark and juicy, it is sometimes edible raw when fully mature. The fruit can be dried and is then quite nice raw.  The fruit is up to 8mm in diameter and contains a single large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Very nutritious, they are added to pemmican. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes above on toxicity. The bark and twigs are a tea substitute. (7)
Medicinal Uses:   Native peoples and settlers used chokecherry  bark and roots to make sedatives, blood-fortifying tonics, appetite stimulants and medicinal teas for treating coughs, tuberculosis, malaria, stomachaches and intestinal worms. (8) Chokecherry was widely employed medicinally by many native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints, valuing it especially for its astringency and beneficial effect upon the respiratory system. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. The roots and the bark are a blood tonic, astringent, pectoral, sedative, tonic and appetite stimulant. An infusion has been used in the treatment of fevers, coughs and colds. An infusion of the root bark has been used as a wash for burns, old sores and ulcers. The inner bark is used externally in the treatment of wounds. A decoction of the inner bark has been used as a treatment for laryngitis and stomach aches. The bark is sometimes used as a flavouring agent in cough syrups. The dried and powdered fruits are used to stimulate the appetite, treat diarrhoea and bloody discharges of the bowels. The astringent unripened fruit has been used by children as a treatment for diarrhoea. The fruit juice has been used as a treatment for sore throats. 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. (9) The Native American Tribes of Oregon would dry the cherries, grate, and mix with dry Salmon and sugar for dysentery (10)
Foot Notes: (1, 6, 10 ) Indian Uses of Native Plants by Edith Murphey, pages 21, 32, 42 ,   Publisher: Meyerbooks Copy right 1990; ISBN 0-916638-15-4
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69(b)
Common Name: Rum Cherry, Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)Appearance and Habitat: Ranging from southeastern Canada through the eastern United States west to east Texas, with disjunct populations in central Texas and mountains of the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Guatemala, Black cherry is a 25-110 ft.  deciduous tree, distinctly conical in youth. When open-grown it becomes oval-headed with spreading, pendulous limbs and arching branches. Crowded trees grow tall and slender. Southwestern varieties are often shrubby. Leaves shiny on the upper surface; blade oblong with a long pointed tip and tapering base, margins finely serrate. White flowers are held in drooping racemes after the glossy leaves have emerged. The dark red fruit  changes to black from August through October. Aromatic tree; crushed foliage and bark  have distinctive cherry-like odor and bitter taste, owing to the same cyanide-forming toxic compounds, such as amygdalin, found in the wood and leaves of some other woody members of the Rosaceae. Fall foliage is yellow.  This widespread species is the largest and most important  native cherry. The valuable wood is used particularly for furniture, paneling, professional and scientific instruments, handles, and toys. Wild cherry syrup, a cough medicine, is obtained from the bark, and jelly and wine are prepared from the fruit. While the fruitis edible and used in beverages and cooking, the rest of the plant contains amygdalin and can be toxic if consumed. One of the first New World trees introduced into English gardens, it was recorded as early as 1629 in Europe and is now highly invasive there and in northern South America. As many as 5 geographical varieties have been distinguished, currently including P. serotina var. serotina (Eastern black cherry) in eastern North America as far west as east Texas, P. serotina var. eximia (Escarpment black cherry) in central Texas, and varieties virens (Southwestern black cherry) and rufula (Chisos black cherry) in mountains of southwestern North America. Populations inhabiting the interior mountains of Mexico and Guatemala are assigned to the subspecies P. serotina ssp. capuli (Capulin black cherry) but are sometimes classed as variety salicifolia. Moist or dry, open woods; fence rows; roadsides; old fields. Thickets, woodlands, canyons, floodplains, and lower riparian slopes. (1) Found in a variety of soils, preferring moist fertile conditions on north or east facing slopes or protected coves.  Dry woods.  N. America-Nova Scotia to Minnesota, south to Florida and Texas. Also in Arizona and Mexico.  A deciduous tree growing to 18 m (59ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a fast rate.  It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen in September. (2)
Warnings: All parts of Prunus species except the fruits contain poisonous substances and should never be eaten. The bark, leaves, and seeds of this species are especially toxic. POISONOUS PARTS: Wilted leaves, twigs (stems), seeds. Highly toxic to humans and herbivorous mammals. May be fatal if ingested. Symptoms include gasping, weakness, excitement, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, coma, respiratory failure. Toxic Principle: Cyanogenic glycoside, amygdalin, prussic acid.  (3)  (Same warnings on previous posting for Prunus virginiana for PFAF) (4)
Edible Uses: Fruit – raw or cooked in pies, jellies, stews etc. It must be fully ripe or else it will have a bitter flavour. The fruit can taste sweet or bitter. The better fruits have a thin skin and a juicy flesh with a pleasant vinous flavour. The fruit can also be used as a flavouring. The taste is best when the plant is grown in a sunny position. The fruit is about 9mm in diameter and contains one large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes above on toxicity. An infusion of the twigs is used as a beverage. An extract from the bark is used commercially as a flavouring in soft drinks, sweets, syrups and baked goods. (5)
Medicinal Uses: Rum cherry was widely employed medicinally by various native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. The bark of the root, trunk and branches is antitussive, astringent, pectoral, sedative, stomachic, tonic. The medicinal properties of this plant are destroyed by boiling, so the plant should only be allowed to steep in warm water. The root bark and the aromatic inner bark have expectorant and mild sedative properties and a tea made from either of them has been used to ease pain in the early stages of labour. The tea is also used in the treatment of fevers, colds, sore throats, diarrhoea etc. The bark is harvested in the autumn and should not be stored for longer than one year since it quickly loses its medicinal properties. Young thin bark is preferred. A decoction of the inner bark has been used in the treatment of laryngitis. The root bark has been used as a wash on old sores and ulcers. The bark contains the glycoside prunasin, which is converted in the digestive tract to the highly toxic hydrocyanic acid. Prunasin is at its highest level in the bark in the autumn so the bark is harvested at this time and can be dried for later use. In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being. The fruit is astringent and has been used in the treatment of dysentery. (6)
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#69(c)
Common Name: Western Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana demissa)
Appearance and Habitat: Prairies and valleys in Western N. America – Washington to California and Texas. A deciduous shrub  growing to 3.6 m (11ft 10in).  It is hardy to zone 2. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in August.
Warnings: (Same as for Prunus virginiana for PFAF)
Edible Uses:  Fruit – raw or cooked. A cherry-like flavour, it can also be dried and is then quite nice raw. The fruit can also be made into syrup, jams, jellies etc. Various native North American Indian tribes ground the fruit, seeds and all, into a paste and dried them into cakes which were later soaked in water, mixed with flour and sugar and used as a sauce. The fruit contains a single large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Ground into a powder and used as a gruel or mixed with cereal flours for making bread etc. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes above on toxicity. The bark and twigs are a tea substitute.
Medicinal Uses: The bark is astringent, pectoral, sedative and tonic. A decoction of the bark has been used in the treatment of indigestion, upset stomachs, diarrhoea, coughs and colds and lung complaints. A decoction of the bark has been used for bathing wounds. The dried, pulverized bark has been used as a dusting powder to dry sores. The steam from the boiling bark has been allowed to rise into the eyes as a treatment for snow blindness. A decoction of the wood scrapings has been used by children and adults as a treatment for bowel complaints. A poultice of the leaves has been applied to oral abscesses, cuts, sores, bruises and black eyes. The ripe fruit is laxative. 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.
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69(d)
Common Name: Rocky Mountain Chokecherry (Prunis virginiana melanocarpa)
Appearance and Habitat: :Prairies and valleys.  Moist soils along creeks in valleys and on hills and mountainsides to about 2,500 meters.  Western N. America- N. Dakota to British Columbia, south to California and New Mexico.  A deciduous shrub growing to 3.6 m (11ft 10in).  It is hardy to zone 2. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in August.
Warnings: (Same as for Prunus virginiana on PFAF)
Edible Uses: Fruit – raw or cooked. The fruit must be fully ripe otherwise it is very astringent. This sub-species is larger and less astringent than P. virginiana and some forms can be quite nice raw. A cherry-like flavour, it can also be dried and is then quite nice raw. The fruit can also be made into syrup, jams, jellies etc. The native N. American Indians ground the fruit, seeds and all, into a paste and dried them into cakes which were later soaked in water, mixed with flour and sugar and used as a sauce. The fruit contains a single large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes above on toxicity. The bark and twigs are a tea substitute.
Medicinal Uses: The bark is astringent, pectoral, sedative and tonic. The bark can be made into a cough syrup. A drink of the fruit juice has been used to stop bleeding following the delivery of a baby. 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
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Prunus serotina, P. virginiana, P. virginiana demissa and others.
Appearance and Habitat: The shrubs are easy to identify, they usually grow close to water or in water.  The flowers and then the berries form 3 -6 inch long clusters.  The bark is a reddish brown or reddish grey and marked with grey strips.  The leaves are elongated and narrow in the southwestern areas and spoon shaped to oval in the northwest U.S.  The leaves are also bright green.  A very versatile shrub, with narrow leaves when it gets lots of sun in Arizona to broader leaves in the north along streams with sage in Nevada.
Edible Uses: Western Choke Cherries are sweeter than east coast varieties and larger.  They make the best wine, jelly, and pemmican.  The dried fruit are good with yogurt, breakfast cereals, smoothies,  and in baking cookies 
Medicinal Uses: The leaves, bark and twigs should be collected for medical use only in the late summer up until the first frost.  At this time the hydrocyanic acid is in a more complex stage and much safer and much harder for the body to absorb.  The dried bark should be made into a tincture of 1:5 in 60% alcohol and 10% glycerin and taken 30-90 drops at 4 times a day as a sedative for cardiopulmonary excitability.  It is safe even for children.   Breathing rapidly with a dry cough can result in a pulse of blood to the lungs which can  be counterproductive by not nurishing the membranes.    It may actually slow down defensive responses to a viral infection.  The hectic breathing can dry out the mucous membranes and make it difficult even for an adult to expectorate the dried blobs attached to the bronchial membranes;  Chokecherry will help.
 Medical Plants of the Mountain West 2nd Edition by Michael Moore, page 82 – 84, Publisher, New Mexico Press
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#70
Common Name: Service Berry, Sarvis Berry, Shad-Blow, Saskatoon
Latin Name: Amelanchier alnifolia, A. arborea, A. utahensis
Family:Rosaceae
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=AMELA main database – all states, except Hawaii and all but the artic portion of Canada
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=AMAL2 California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, and north to Canada and Alaska (Amelanchier alnifolia)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=AMAR3 all states east of the Mississippi R. and all on the west bank, plus Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas (Amelanchier arborea)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=AMUT all states west of the Rocky Mountains plus Texas (Amelanchier utahensis)
Photos: (click on links of latin name after range)
70(a)
Common Name: Saskatoon Serviceberry (Amelanchier ainifolia)
Native American Names: Tuyembee (Shoshone), Saskatoon (British Columbia Tribes), Ok a nook (Blackfeet) (1)
Appearance and Habitat: This is typically an erect shrub,  3-18 ft. tall. In rich soils, a single trunk may develop and attain 30 ft. in height. Compact clusters of fragrant, white flowers emerge just before small, light-green, oval  leaves appear. The small, sweet, blue berries ripen by early summer. Fall color is orange to red and takes place for long periods. (2) Thickets, woodland edges and banks of streams in moist well-drained soils.  Small bushy forms grow on fairly dry hillsides.  Western and Central N. America – Saskatchewan and south to Colorado and Idaho. A deciduous shrub growing to 4 m (13ft) by 3 m (9ft).  It is hardy to zone 2 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from Jun to July. (3)
Warnings: None (4)
Edible Uses:   Purplish black fruit used fresh and dried by Native Americans and early settlers for eating and for pemmican(5) Edible fruit – raw or cooked. The fruit ripens in mid summer (early July in southern Britain), it is soft and juicy with a few small seeds in the centre. A very nice sweet flavour that is enjoyed by almost everyone who tries it, there is a hint of apple in the taste. About the size of a blackcurrant, the fruit is produced in small clusters and the best wild forms can be 15mm in diameter. The fruit can also be dried and used as raisins or made into pemmican. The fruit is rich in iron and copper. The leaves are a tea substitute. (6)
Medicinal Uses: Saskatoon was quite widely employed as a medicinal herb by the North American Indians, who used it to treat a wide range of minor complaints. It is little used in modern herbalism. An infusion of the inner bark is used as a treatment for snow-blindness. A decoction of the fruit juice is mildly laxative. It has been used in the treatment of upset stomachs, to restore the appetite in children, it is also applied externally as ear and eye drops. A decoction of the roots has been used in the treatment of colds. It has also been used as a treatment for too frequent menstruation. A decoction of the stems, combined with the stems of snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp) is diaphoretic. It has been used to induce sweating in the treatment of fevers, flu etc and also in the treatment of chest pains and lung infections. A decoction of the plant, together with bitter cherry (Prunus emarginata) has been used as a contraceptive. Other recipes involving this plant have also been used as contraceptives including a decoction of the ashes of the plant combined with the ashes of pine branches or buds. A strong decoction of the bark was taken immediately after childbirth to hasten the dropping of the placenta. It was said to help clean out and help heal the woman’s insides and also to stop her menstrual periods after the birth, thus acting as a form of birth control. (7)
Foot Notes: (1, 5) Indian Uses of Native Plants by Edith Murphey, pages 22, 53 ,   Publisher: Meyerbooks Copy right 1990; ISBN 0-916638-15-4
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#70(b)
Common Name: Downy Service Berry (Amelanchier arborea)
Appearance and Habitat: This Amelanchier species is a tall shrub  or small tree, usually 15-25 ft., sometimes growing as tall as 30 ft. Its white flowers occur in drooping racemes, appearing before the leaves. Young leaves are covered with soft, woolly hairs that disappear as the leaf matures. The plant’s ornamental bark is gray and smooth but streaked with longitudinal fissures; often with a reddish cast. Old bark  is scaly. Small, edible berries are reddish-purple. The deciduous leaves of downy service-berry may turn wine-red in fall.  The names Shadbush and Shadblow allude to the fact that the showy masses of white flowers tend to occur at the same time that shad ascend the rivers in early spring to spawn. An older name is Sarvis.  (1) Rich woods, thickets, and slopes in Eastern N. America – New Brunswick to Florida, west to Minnesota and Texas.  A deciduous tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 12 m (39ft). It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen from Jun to July. (2)
Warnings: none (3)
Edible Uses:  Edible fruit – raw or cooked. The fruit has a few small seeds at the centre, some forms are dry and tasteless whilst others are sweet and juicy. The fruit ripens unevenly over a period of 2 – 3 weeks and is very attractive to birds, this makes harvesting them in quantity rather difficult. The fruit is borne in small clusters and is up to 10mm in diameter. It is rich in iron and copper. (4)
Medicinal Uses:  A compound infusion of the plant has been used as an anthelmintic, in the treatment of diarrhoea and as a spring tonic. An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of gonorrhoea (5)
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70(c)
Common Name: Utah Serviceberry (Amelanchier utahensis)
Appearance and Habitat: Utah service-berry is a much-branched, 3-15 ft., deciduous shrubor small tree with grayish, oval  leaves; racemes of white flowers; and small, dark-purple fruit. The bark is ashy-gray. This widedspread shrub serves as browse for Mule Deer, Desert Bighorn Sheep, and domestic livestock; its berries are eaten by birds such as the Sage Grouse.  (1) Drier areas on rimrock valleys, gullies, and hillsides from sagebrush desert to middle elevations in mountains.  South western N. America – Utah to New Mexico.  A deciduous shrub  growing to 5 m (16ft 5in).  It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Apr to May. (2)
Warnings: none (3)
Edible Uses: Edible fruit, raw or cooked. The fruit can also be dried and used as a raisin substitute. The fruit is rich in iron and copper. It is produced in small clusters and is about 10mm in diameter. (4)
Medicinal Uses: An infusion of the inner bark is used to treat snow-blindness. The plant has been used to ease childbirth during labour and delivery.
Reproduced, in part, (as well as previous postings under this title) in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.
 
 




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