The information from Brazilian Trees[
] is based on Prunus sellowii Koehne, treated here as a synonym of Prunus myrtifolia[
Celastrus myrtifolius L.
Cerasus reflexa Gardner
Laurocerasus myrtifolia (L.) Britton
Prunus sellowii Koehne
Prunus sphaerocarpa Sw.
Common Name: West Indies Cherry
West Indies cherry is an evergreen tree with a dense, pyramid shaped crown; it can grow 10 - 15 metres tall. The crooked bole can be 30 - 40cm in diameter[
The tree is sometimes harvested from the wild for its wood and for local medicinal uses.
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves, seed and bark, and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should 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.
S. America - Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, French Guiana, Surinam; Caribbean - Trinidad to Cuba; N. America - Florida, Mexico.
Semideciduous forest, most commonly in open, secondary formations and only occasionally in the denser primary forest[
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Succeeds in full sun and in dappled shade[
]. Tolerant of a wide range of soils[
Plants have a moderate rate of growth[
A decoction of the grated bark is used as a pectoral remedy for colds[
The heartwood is a light, clear red; the thick band of sapwood is paler in colour[
]. The wood is fine-textured, straight and close-grained, heavy, hard to cut, with moderate resistance to wood-eating organisms. It is used for internal purposes in construction, for making furniture, sports articles, tool handles, lathe work, plywood etc[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a partially shaded position in a nursery seedbed or in individual containers. A low germination rate can usually be expected, with the seed sprouting within 30 - 50 days[
Seeds have a viability of at least 12 months if kept in cold storage[
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