Wild Cherry is a small tree in the Rosaceae family that is commonly known as Chokecherry. It is indigenous to Northern North America and small pockets in the Rockies and California Coastal Ranges. It grows in full sun to part shade, and is often found in drier, well drained loamy soils. It tends to sucker and form a colony of trees, so if planted in a yard, the suckers should be trimmed back regularly. The leaves are oval and have serrate margins and it flowers white in racemes. The fruits are small, usually less than half an inch in diameter, red to black, bitter, and astringent. The bark is shiny with small linear scars and is harvested in the early autumn. The leaves of the chokecherry serve as food for caterpillars.
Wild Cherry Bark is a cooling and sweet anti-tussive, expectorant, astringent, sedative, and digestive bitter. It’s a gentle herb with strong properties, making it great herb for children. It works by sedating the cough reflex, making it especially helpful for irritating coughs such as bronchitis, bronchial spasms and whooping cough. The active ingredient in Wild Cherry Bark is hydrocyanic acid, which works to cleanse and decongest the lungs, blood, and lymphatic system. Combined with other respiratory herbs, it can help control asthma. A cold brew of the bark can also be used as a calming wash for irritated eyes and skin.
Wild Cherry, or chokecherry, was an important food for the Native Americans of the Northern Rockies, Northern Plains, and Boreal forests of Canada and the US, and was also used medicinally to treat colds, fevers, and stomach problems. It was also an ingredient used in a smoking mixture called kinnikinnick. The berries have been used by Native Americans and Colonists alike to make jams, jellies, wines, and syrups. It is the official fruit of North Dakota due to it’s frequent occurrences at important archeological digs. The leaves, especially when wilted, are toxic to livestock such as horses, goats, cattle, and some wild animals.
1 teaspoon of the dried bark or powder, infused into a cup of water for 15 minutes, three times daily, or a tincture of 1-2 ml three times daily. It can also be prepared in similar doses as a decoction or cough syrup.
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